Reality, sadly, provides us with a grim picture of violence, distress, hunger and crime, and when this affects children the pain is even greater.
The great educator, author and doctor, Janusz Korczak, who ran an orphanage in Warsaw from 1911 to 1942 and was deported together with his children to Treblinka, understood, in the most profound way, that giving a child respect, appreciation, love, responsibility, and tools to cope with difficult conditions, are the basis for taking children out of a severely stressful situation. Korczak did not talk, he did! He raised generations of children, and those who survived do not forget for a moment what they learnt from him. A child who receives love and appreciation repays these emotions, because they give him self-confidence and strength to cope with life’s difficulties.
Janusz Korczak, considered an exemplary role model as an educator according to the method he devised, summarized his credo in the following words:
“God was not given to you; you must discover him within your soul. A homeland was not given to you; you must stumble on it through your efforts. Love of your fellows was not given to you; love is the result of travail that every being reaches for. You were given the yearning for a better life, a life of truth and justice…”
The families who join the Afikim centers run by Moshe Lefkowitz, benefit from the staff and volunteers who are investing all their efforts to teach the children to yearn for a better life; to learn and excel; to dream and to realize their dreams. Maybe, thanks to these years at Afikim where they receive the respect, love and attention they need, these children will, in the future, become successful adults and parents.
Wishing us all a Happy New Year, a year of “caring,” a year where each one of us will do all he can so that our children may yearn for a better life.”
*Ms. Yardeni Katz is an educator and well known author. Her children’s books have won many awards and accolades. Ms. Yardeni Katz served as the Director of Arts in the Jerusalem Municipality and is active today in a number of welfare organizations in Jerusalem. Ruth is a loving wife, proud mother of two and doting grandmother of four.