Current, former pupils tour fire-devastated youth village

“I spent the best 3 years of my life here. I’ve been all over Israel, and there’s nowhere as beautiful as this place,” former Yamin Orde pupil says.

December 7, 2010 02:36
2 minute read.
Moshe Kaufmann looking into the windows of the dor

Yamin Orde Fire 311. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

The Yamin Orde Youth Village is but a shell of its former self, with nearly a dozen buildings left torched and gutted by the Carmel wildfire that tore through it over the weekend.

Situated in the Carmel outside the artists’ village of Ein Hod, Yamin Orde is home to over 500 youths from 22 countries around the world, according to the village’s website, as well as their Israeli guides, many of whom are post-army or performing national service.

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Though most of the youths were students from families in Israel and abroad, the village also housed a large number of orphans between the ages of nine and 19 from the former Soviet Union.

On Monday, current and former students and teachers strolled through the village, taking in the devastation. The ruined buildings included student dormitories, houses of counselors, and the village convenience store, library and workshop.

The workshop was a familiar spot for former student Moshe Kaufmann, 23, who drove up from Herzliya on Monday to survey the damage.

“I used to work here. All of the students are given a job in the village, and mine was here in the workshop. I knew this place very well,” said the Sao Paolo native, crestfallen in a T-shirt emblazoned with the Brazilian flag.

“I spent the best three years of my life here. I’ve been all over Israel, and there’s nowhere as beautiful as this place,” Kaufmann said, relating stories of field trips, early morning services in the village synagogue, and hiding among the pine trees with his then-girlfriend, breaking curfew and keeping an eye out for the flashlight of the village guard.

“I’m not going to say this place was perfect – we had some problems.

But every kid who had the chance to live here was lucky. If I could live here again, I’d do it in a heartbeat,” Kaufmann said, taking in the view toward the turquoise waters off the naval commandos base in Atlit.

Following the destruction, Yamin Orde launched a donation drive, asking the public to send anything it could to help the youth village recover. The drive places a particular emphasis on the orphans who lost their homes and are in need of clothes, furniture, school supplies and home appliances.

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