My name is Hannah Scherl and I am a sixth grader at the Moriah School in Englewood, New Jersey. I don’t have to look very far to see that my friends and I are very fortunate. We live very well and have everything that we could ever want to eat or play with. Most afternoons, I have play dates with friends, play basketball or squash. I spend weekends in the winters skiing on a racing team. My parents drive us to and from school every day, and we usually spend most evenings together as a family.

The children who attend the Afikim daily, after-school programs, however, do not have any of the luxuries that are a part of my daily life. Instead, their lives are a struggle each day. If it were not for Afikim, many of these children would come home from school to an empty house. No one would be home to help them with their homework, so they probably wouldn’t bother doing it at all. Finally, without Afikim, the children would not have a safe learning enrvironment or place to play.

When I learned about these children that benefit so greatly from Afikim, I was especially moved. It’s so hard for me to imagine life from their point of view. Although in our home, doing chesed and supporting organizations is a family affair, I wanted to choose my own organization that was special to me and do something special for the Israeli children who attend the Afikim program. Since Chanukah is around the corner, and my Bat Mitzvah party is taking place the night before we light the menorah and celebrate the chag, I wanted to throw these children a party they would never forget.

Hannah Scherl is trying to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged Israeli children who attend the Afikim centers throughout Israel.� She has decided to focus on these at-risk children for her Bat Mitzvah project.

Afikim Family Enrichment Association provides six years of after-school programming to disadvantaged, and often neglected, children who may not otherwise have supervision or assistance in their own homes each day after school.� Afikim provides these children with nourishing meals, academic enhancement and enrichment, recreational activities, counseling, as well as socialization classes.

Afikimnot only assists the children, but the entire family. It provides parenting classes to improve parental coping and skills.�These parents are also provided with vocational training to make themselves more marketable, to make themselves more marketable, as well as provide budgetary advice to help the parents make better financial choices for their families.

Chanukah is around the corner. �We will light the first candle the night following Hannah�s Bat Mitzvah.� Hannah has decided to sell Chanukah candles to raise money to throw a “Chanukah Chagiga (party)” for the families enriched by Afikim.� This party will have inflatable trampolines, fun and educational craft stations, musical entertainment, candle-making, pottery-making, and many other games.� Each child will be served Sufganyot (jelly donuts) and be given a dreidel and other age-appropriate Chanukah gifts.

All of us will be fortunate enough to share in Hannah�s simcha, as well as many other festivities that will take place for the holiday of Chanukah, but the children who attend the Afikim programs will not be so lucky.� Hannah�s Chagiga may be the only celebration of Chanukah that these children enjoy.