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If you would walk into the shabbaton that took place in took place in Tzefarya, you’d be surprised to see young seven year old boys sitting along eighteen year old bochurim, chassidish boys with long peyos, sitting along litvishe boys with short jackets. You would wonder what all of these three hundred boys have in common. The answer is that they’re all orphans. Every single boy in the room has lost either a mother or a father or both.
Shabbos Boneinu is a project by Tov V’Chesed of Israel that arranges an uplifting, inspiring shabbaton for orphaned boys in Israel. Tov V’Chesed has been founded to end the suffering of Israel’s children. Aside from its massive food distribution to orphaned and poor children and its simcha fund for Israeli orphans, Tov V’Chesed has developed an entire division, Project Boneinu, dedicated to support orphaned boys. Project Boneinu headquarters in an Orphan Center where over 500 orphans walk in at any time of day to find a warm meal, a listening ear, guidance, support and friendship. This shabbaton is the highlight for the orphans from the Orphan Center since they get to spend 24 hours of unadulterated joy!
This shabbos was the best of everything. From lavish welcome packages to an action-packed program, the orphans squeezed every ounce of this once-yearly retreat. As the orphans went from one meal to another, from one kumzitz to another, bursts of song emerged from every corner. “A Shabbos in Boneinu is Amachai…”
We asked, Tov V’Chesed’s founder, Rabbi Yaakov Eliezer Shisha how he was able to bring together all these boys from so many different backgrounds into one room. He said, “It’s like a father who sits at his Shabbos table with children of all ages, of all types and personalities. Here 300 orphans sit together with their one father. Backgrounds don’t matter, levush doesn’t matter. All that matters is that they are all here, supporting each other and celebrating together. Asking Rabbi Meir Acker, director of the Orphan Support Division in Tov V’Chesed, how he would sum up this shabbos, he too said, “It was like spending time with family.”
Shabbos meals were sprinkled with inspiring speeches, gourmet meals and endless song and dance. It all came together Motzei Shabbos at an unforgettable melave malke complete with delicious warm food, an 8-piece band and spirited dancing. The melave malke was also a siyum mishnayos for the mishnayos that the orphans learned under Boeninu’s learning program l’ilui nishmas their parents. A heartfelt kadish reverberated throughout the room as the children felt the presence of their parents descend upon them.
Photos by JDN