Author: Jessica Gavin

Lighting Up Lives: The Science Mobile Program

The Canadian Friends of The Jaffa Institute  is proud to support the Science Mobile Program, which aims to introduce disadvantaged children to the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Delivered on our behalf by The Jaffa Institute in Israel, this innovative program provides children from diverse backgrounds in Jaffa, South Tel-Aviv, Bat Yam and Yehud, with state-of-the-art learning tools in these disciplines. 

Recreational vehicle trailers are out-fitted with cutting-edge technologies and these vehicles travel on a rotating schedule to the After-School Educational Enrichment Centers for at-risk youth, as well as to underserved local public schools.

There are three types of these traveling laboratories: The Science Mobile; The Space Mobile; and a Mobile Cooking laboratory. The aim of the latter is to provide participants with opportunities to discover the wonders of science, through cooking. 

Each Science Mobile vehicle accommodates 10 students, allowing the instructor to provide this small group with individualized support.

Click here to learn more about this program.

Lighting Up Lives: Esther’s Story


Esther, a 15-year-old girl in the ninth grade, is in her second year at Stepping Stone

Her parents emigrated to Israel from a country in Africa about 15 years ago. Esther’s father works in security for long hours and is hardly at home. Her mother works mainly in cleaning. She has two brothers aged 6 and 3. 

Last year, Esther came to Stepping Stone and her behavior was characterized by extreme shyness, minimal social interaction and low participation in the Centre’s activities. The Stepping Stone team worked diligently to get closer to Esther, and slowly she opened up. Yet she continued to stay quiet in group forums. 

At the beginning of this year, Esther shared with a Stepping Stone social worker that she experienced violence at home, both physically and mentally. She began to give an open account of the past several years and the difficulty that the violent responses, especially from her mother, posed to her. Despite these challenges Esther is an outstanding student at a reputed school in Tel Aviv, and she takes great responsibility in helping her brothers grow up, making sure to help foster a warm home environment for them. 

Thanks to this safe environment at Stepping Stone, Esther’s willingness to share her story has allowed her to be more open and expressive with her feelings, something she had not been able to do for a long time. According to Esther, she had never, until her time at Stepping Stone, told anyone about the violence she experienced at home. Just being able to open up made her feel more safe and secure. 

Today, several months after she shared her story, the Centre’s staff are seeing positive changes in Esther, both emotionally and socially. She now makes connections with her peers, laughs more frequently and is more at ease. Esther continues to share her feelings with the social worker in the Centre and has agreed to ask for help or to consult with the staff when she needs to. According to her, the violence at home has stopped, following a police investigation. 

Today, Esther is more expressive, enjoys personal hobbies such as writing and playing, and allows herself to strive to develop and advance. Stepping Stone has enabled her to open up about a painful secret and to receive protection and security from caring professionals. She also enjoys the ongoing encouragement to develop her own path and to be uniquely herself.


This multifaceted program addresses the specific and serious needs of at-risk teenage girls, ages 13-15. Participants in the program are referred to Stepping Stone by municipal social welfare authorities in the areas where the program is offered. The majority of these teenage girls come from homes with parents, who for various reasons, cannot provide them with either financial or emotional support. The Stepping Stone program’s unique structure ensures that staff members are able to provide each teenage girl with individual attention and substantial academic and emotional support. 

Click here to learn more about this program.

*Names and photos have been changed to protect the privacy of these individuals.

Lighting Up Lives: Malach’s Story

Tenth-grade student, Malach has participated in our Jump Start program for two years. Throughout his childhood, Malach struggled with attention deficit issues that interfered with his ability to focus in school. Staff enrolled Malach in his school’s remedial class due to difficulties with math. With his parents working multiple jobs, Malach often spends his evenings supervising his younger siblings. 

Since joining Jump Start, Malach has developed a trusting and comfortable relationship with his math tutor, Sabine, whose thorough, personalized instruction allowed Malach’s academic performance and confidence to improve immensely. Within a few months of tutoring, Malach’s school decided to transfer him to a regular math class. In February, his instructor further placed him in the advanced math class. Future tutoring sessions will prepare Malach for his honors-level math matriculation exam in the 11th grade. 

Malach remains driven to graduate with honors despite various setbacks, an achievement he would never have thought was possible.


The second in our series of four, the Jump Start program, run by the Jaffa Institute, focuses on the educational and emotional needs of youth ages 11-18. Highly-motivated tutors assist students in core subjects such as math, science, English and Hebrew. Instruction is on a one-on-one basis. Some 50% of the students enrolled in this program have been diagnosed with special needs and many others have learning issues. Tutors are trained to address both the students’ academic challenges and to encourage them to discuss any emotional issues and social pressures that they may be grappling with.

Click here to learn more about this program.

*Names and photos have been changed to protect individual’s privacy.

Lighting Up Lives: Hanna’s Story

Hanna loves to play clarinet. Looking at this energetic, healthy 11-year-old girl practicing with her orchestra at Bat Yam After-School Center, it’s hard to imagine the shy, underweight girl who arrived at the Centre three years ago. 

Hanna is one of six siblings. Since her parents made Aliyah from the Ukraine in the late 1990s, her father has worked as a taxi driver, her mother as a cleaner. Hanna’s parents love their children, but there was never really enough food to go around. 

Hanna didn’t thrive in her first few years of primary school. She was tired and irritable, always struggling to focus on her work. But a month or so after joining Bat Yam After-School Center, her counselors noticed a change. She began to look healthier and happier as she was given daily Hot Meals. Her concentration allowed her to focus on her love for music. Without Hot Meals, Hanna would still be an underweight, underachieving student; three years of nutritious lunches later, she is a flourishing young musician, sharing her music with her community.


This program introduces students to the arts. It encourages children aged three through 12 to immerse themselves twice a week in one of a wide range of arts subjects. They can learn to play instruments. There is also vocal training on offer. Other choices include: drawing; sculpture; and photography. Instruction is by highly-trained professionals, classes are small and each child receives individualized attention.

Click here to learn more about this program.

*Names and photos have been changed to protect individual’s privacy.

Women in the Desert Trip October 31-November 4

Women in the Desert – Embark on a life-changing experience in the Arava

Join us for a journey of renewal, recharging and reflecting in Israel. Discover how to live each day with more mindfulness, lightness and ease.

New dates will be shared in 2022.



Crisis in Israel – Please Help Our Families and Holocaust Survivors

Thanks to each of you for keeping Israel in your hearts and prayers during this very difficult week. 

Our programs are in crisis.  Sirens are blasting throughout the day and nights as rockets once again illuminate the sky.

The children are terrified.  The elderly have no one to comfort them.  And our Passover food boxes are now empty.  Too afraid to leave their safe rooms, it is up to us to help our neighbours.  No matter how far you are from your brothers and sisters in the line of these rockets, I hope you’ll show your compassion and support as we gear up our emergency food efforts.

It’s not about how much to give, it’s about giving whatever you can. 

The more funds we receive, the more food our team of volunteers can pack and deliver – provisions that will ensure no elderly Holocaust survivor in our care needs to risk their life to buy a loaf of bread.  We need to send food that could last for more than a month.

How can you help? Please donate today by clicking the link. Any amount makes a difference. You have our heartfelt thanks.

With gratitude and hopes for Shalom.

Passover Food Drive


Passover, a festival where freedom is celebrated, is fast approaching. While this is an opportunity for renewal and reflection, it is a challenge for those who are unable to afford Passover food items.

Help us to ensure that our children, families and Holocaust Survivors in Israel, can celebrate this holiday of freedom with plentiful food packages.

Volunteers pack food boxes for Passover

Give a single donation of $180 or more and receive a beautiful package of 5 cards depicting life at the Jaffa Institute, created by photojournalist Meredith Holbrook

One of 5 indvidual cards depicting heartwarming moments captured at the Jaffa Institute

Give a single donation of $500 or more and receive a beautiful puzzle set entitled “Food is Love” which includes a 1000-piece puzzle AND a 30-piece puzzle 

The perfect puzzle set for the whole family: includes 1000-piece and 30-piece puzzles

Become a monthly donor to the Canadian Friends of the Jaffa Institute and pledge $20 per month to receive your card set now OR $45 per month to receive your puzzle set now

Cards for Passover

With Passover fast approaching, please consider wishing your friends and family a Happy Passover by sending them a donation card depicting life at the Jaffa Institute in Israel. Cards will be personalized with your own special message and be mailed out to your list of recipients by the CFJI, in time for Passover.

To order your Passover cards please email Pam Albert at CFJI. Pam’s email address is: If you would like us to prepare these Passover cards for you, the cost is $10.00 per card.

On behalf of CFJI, we wish you and your families a Chag Pesach Sameach.

Conversations Over Coffee

Settle in with a cup of coffee or tea to hear Reb Steve of the Beth Tzedec Centre for Spiritual Well-Being in Toronto, with Mitch Chupak, Director of Development for the Jaffa Institute. They  discuss the Jaffa Institute and the amazing work they do to assist the city of Jaffa’s severely disadvantaged children and their families.

2021 Road Map

Did you know that the Jaffa Institute is about to turn forty in 2022? That’s four decades of providing food, education, and other important social services!

We are excited to set the stage this year for The Canadian Friends of the Jaffa Institute to continue to change the lives of children, families and Holocaust Survivors living below the poverty line in Israel.

In light of this significant anniversary we have decided on a goal to raise $40,000 for each of our signature programs in 2021.

To launch our celebration, join us in raising $40,000 to feed 400 families in Jaffa, Bat Yam, South Tel Aviv and surrounding areas in 2021.

Our campaign begins with our annual Passover Food Drive which will be kicking off in two weeks. Stay tuned for a link to this donation site.

Passover and food security are intricately connected. Here are some reasons why this holiday is so meaningful to our goal:

* Passover is a holiday celebrating freedom: our essential Passover food packages provide families with freedom from hunger

* Every Jewish family deserves to have a Passover Seder – particularly in this time of COVID-19

* Celebrating Passover through traditional foods is a means of passing on Jewish tradition to the next generation

* Holocaust Survivors who do not take freedom for granted, deserve to have the opportunity to celebrate this holiday with a Passover meal

A senior receiving a food box during COVID-19

Food security is an ever pressing challenge with our families. Here is how we can lessen this burden together:

* Give a single donation of $180 or more and receive a package of 5 cards depicting life at the Jaffa Institute created by a professional photographer

* Give a single donation of $500 or more receive a beautiful puzzle set entitled “Food is Love” which includes 1 x 1000-piece puzzle and 1 x 48-piece puzzle

* Become a monthly donor to the Canadian Friends of the Jaffa Institute and pledge a monthly amount of $20/month or more or $45/month or more to receive your gifts now

Click the DONATE button today to contribute and receive your special gift.

Set of 5 beautiful cards depicting life at the Jaffa Institute by Meredith Holbrooke
"Food is Love" 2-Pack Puzzles (48-piece and 500-piece) from Every Piece Counts


Our regular emails keep you informed about the CFJI programs to support those in need in Israel and the impact of your giving on their lives.