Give them a hug

Research indicates that there is a significant improvement in the well-being of children participating in the project.

japan charity 311 (photo credit: gil shefler)
japan charity 311
(photo credit: gil shefler)
THE ISRAEL Japan Friendship Society, in conjunction with the Embassy of Japan, has organized a lecture at 11 a.m. today by clinical psychologist Dr.
Shai Hen-Gal at the embassy’s premises in the Museum Tower in Tel Aviv.
Hen-Gal, who is head of the psychological services at the Industry, Labor and Trade Ministry and a lecturer at the University of Haifa’s Department of Education, will talk about the Hibuki (“hug” in Hebrew) therapeutic intervention project in the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami catastrophe.
The project was developed by Israel JOINT Ashalim, Tel Aviv University and the Education Ministry after the Second Lebanon War. Basically, the project involves using stuffed toy animals as a therapeutic aid for traumatized children.
The project has been operating in Israel for several years, reaching close to 50,000 children. Research indicates that there is a significant improvement in the well-being of children participating in the project.
In Japan, it has been implemented in the northeast of the country.
Following the disaster in Japan two years ago, the Japanese Puppet Therapy Association appealed to Israel for training in the Hibuki project to help Japanese preschool children suffering from trauma and emotional distress after the tsunami struck the Sendai and Ofunato districts. Over the past two years, an Israeli team has been providing assistance in treating trauma in Japan and has conducted many seminars on Hibuki.
■ ALTHOUGH MANY Holocaust survivors are still living in abject poverty and are being denied money to which they are legally entitled, some, thanks to Yad Ezer Le’Haver with the help of the Jerusalem-headquartered International Christian Embassy, live very comfortably in Haifa. Last week, some of them decided to do something for people who are in dire economic straits. Together with volunteers from many sectors of the community, they spent an entire day packing 10,000 boxes of food to be distributed to needy families in the Haifa area in time for Passover.
Yad Ezer Le’Haver, which is run by Shimon Sabag, has 60 volunteers and no paid staff. It caters to people in all age groups, including children. In addition to providing homes for Holocaust survivors and food packages for the needy, it operates two soup kitchens that offer breakfast and lunch to students from poor families, distributes free clothing and furniture to the needy, operates a shelter for people who have been evicted from their homes, and an after-school center for children, where they get help with their homework, special tutoring in computers, plus encouragement to participate in extra-curricular activities and develop hobbies. They are also taught dancing and how to care for animals. Yad Ezer Le’Haver continues to be concerned about those Holocaust survivors who do not live in the homes that it provides and has launched an SMS campaign on their behalf in which the public is asked to donate the modest sum of NIS 10.
■ THE DAYS of Song Festival at the Holon Theater on March 27-30 will be a tribute to singer Shmulik Kraus, who died last month. Last year’s festival was also in tribute to him and the 1960s pop group The High Windows, of which he was a founding member. His death is considered to be a great loss to Israeli show-business. Coincidentally, it is also the 40th anniversary of the break-up of The High Windows, whose other members were Arik Einstein, Shalom Hanoch, Mickey Gavrielov and Shemtov Levy.
■ EVEN IF he hadn’t decided to quit the Knesset and the Labor Party immediately after giving his maiden speech, former Labor MK Yoram Marciano (who replaced Amir Peretz, who left Labor and joined Tzipi Livni) would have had to cede his Knesset seat if he won the Lod mayoral elections.
Marciano had hoped to run for mayor but Meir Nitzan, the long-serving mayor of Rishon Lezion, who had lost in the last mayor elections, was appointed by the Interior Ministry as interim mayor, much to Marciano’s outrage and frustration.
Marciano was born in Lod, whereas Nitzan was born in Romania. There’s no denying that Nitzan did succeed in making some improvements.
Marciano believes that he can do better, and now that the Interior Ministry has allowed Lod more leeway in its bid for overall autonomy, he finally had his chance to throw his hat into the ring. He is conducting a vigorous and aggressive campaign, and the word on the street is that he has a fairly good chance of winning.