At least a baker’s dozen of children, who are part of the Chabad of Hewlett’s after-school program for fourth- and fifth-graders Jewish Kids Club of Hewlett, packed Purim packages that will be sent to Israel Defense Forces soldiers and children who live at the Mishpacha Jewish Orphanage in Odessa, a port city in the southern Ukraine.
Purim, a Jewish holiday commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, an Achaemenid Persian Empire prime minister who was planning to kill all the Jews, as recounted in the Book of Esther, which is also known as the Megillah and read every Purim. Celebrating includes dressing in costumes and eating the three-cornered treat hamantashen to resemble the style hats worn by the Persians of that era. This year Purim is March 9 to 10.
The IDF is Israel’s military and includes ground forces, an air force and navy. Not only do Israelis serve in the IDF, but volunteers called “lone soldiers” typically young people who are from other countries or do not have immediate family in the Jewish state, serve as well. The Five Towns usually has the greatest percentage of lone soldiers, annually.
Mishpacha Jewish Orphanage’s story begins in the summer of 2001, when a grandmother entered a Chabad shul in Odessa with her grandchildren: a boy, 8, and a girl, 6. She said: “School starts in two weeks and I can’t possibly raise and educate my grandchildren. I leave them to you. I have faith in you!”
Chabad officials said they were shocked by the decision. The woman told them that the previous night, her daughter was murdered by some drunkards just outside her own front door. The grandmother had no money to feed and clothe them. A new institution was born.
Mispacaha officials state that the orphanage cares for to 80 boys and girls from birth to 18-years-old, living in two separate buildings, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The young people attend regular schools and kindergartens, “integrating successfully so that no one can tell they come from orphanages,” orphanage officials state in the website.