Youth Aliyah's new needs

Melvin Robinson, Simona Kedmi, Shimon Solomon and Rabbi Lau

Melvin Robinson, Simona Kedmi, Shimon Solomon and Rabbi Lau

Youth Aliyah Child Rescue gave a generous nod to its past and an emotive look at its present as it celebrated its 80th anniversary with a gala dinner at London's Guildhall on Tuesday.

The past was represented by guest speakers Yisrael Meir Lau, Israel's former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, and Knesset Member Shimon Solomon.

Rabbi Lau, the youngest survivor of Buchenwald, was brought to Israel with Youth Aliyah's support. Mr Solomon came to Israel via Sudan as part of the rescue of Ethiopian Jews and was raised in the charity's Yemin Orde youth village, near Haifa. He told the 550 diners that his time at Yemin Orde had given him "a sense of security, together with the belief that the sky is the limit".

Mr Solomon spoke after the appeal video, illustrating the issues that the charity deals with today among disadvantaged Israeli youth. "Son of an alcoholic," read the caption accompanying the image of one child. "Mother is a drug addict" was the description of another. A third youngster's background was encapsulated in two words - "sexually abused".

Israeli ambassador Daniel Taub congratulated the "remarkable" charity for taking in children from the most difficult of backgrounds. "It never sees them as victims, only for the potential they have to offer."

The dinner raised more than £500,000, which will fund a therapy centre at Youth Aliyah's Talpiot village in Hadera. An acute shortage of therapy rooms reflected "the increased number of at risk children referred to Talpiot by the welfare authorities in search of effective rehabilitation".

    Last updated: 1:44pm, February 13 2014