Orphaned Fauda star pays tribute to his JNF home

Yaakov Zada Daniel, who plays Eli in the hit series, is fronting JNF UK’s Rosh Hashanah appeal


In life, you’re lucky if you get to have one family that loves you.

But Fauda star Yaakov Zada Daniel has two — his co-stars on the TV series and his adopted brothers and sisters from his childhood in the JNF-sponsored village of Neradim.

The Israeli actor, who plays Eli, one of the crack team of commandos featured in Yes Studios’s mammoth hit, is currently taking on a different role — fronting JNF UK’s Rosh Hashanah appeal.

Yaakov, who was orphaned at the age of three, grew up in the desert village of Neradim, a children’s-home-cum-kibbutz for vulnerable kids from across Israel.

He spent 15 years living with his new brothers and sisters under the watchful eye of a “house mother” and is now joining with JNF UK to appeal for much-needed funding for a new emergency centre in the village.

He told the JC that the community in Neradim made all the difference to him after his parents’s deaths.

He said: “The other children there were my family. We went on trips together.

"We travelled across Israel together on road trips. We did hikes, went camping and played on the football field.

“We were together all the time. Any problems we had, we tackled them together.”

While he said he wouldn’t wish his circumstances on anyone, Yaakov said the support that the staff at Neradim provided had allowed him to have a real childhood.

He said: “The children at Neradim have no other place to go, there are many, many stories of children with tough lives and exposure to violence, drugs and prostitution. A lot of very sad stories.

"Neradim gives them a normal house. It keeps them happy and gives them all the support they need to be children.”

After leaving Neradim, Yaakov took up acting, which eventually landed him his Fauda role, and it was there that he found his second family.

“I auditioned in front of Lior Raz. We’ve been working together for years now, and we’re such a tight family group. I just hope I don’t get killed off this season.”

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