July 24, 2024
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A Young Woman’s Road From Fear to Success

The attractive young woman who stood at the microphone at the Sheraton New York was poised and articulate. Speaking before a crowd of nearly 600 at the Emunah Circle of Life Dinner on November 14, 21-year-old Naomi Daniel shared her life story, one that took her from her formative years growing up at Emunah’s Bet Elazraki Children’s Home to the successful young woman of today.

Naomi arrived at Bet Elazraki, one of Emunah’s five children’s residential homes in Israel, when she was eight years old, accompanied by her two younger sisters. Her parents were Ethiopian immigrants; her mother had just passed away and her father was incapable of caring for the children. Naomi’s brothers were scattered in different boarding schools. She remembers feeling anxious that she would not be accepted by the other children. She was afraid to fail at school, and afraid to get hurt again. She recalled how her fears soon melted away as a result of the care she received at the Emunah home. “Everything started to change after the counselor woke me up every morning with a smile and a hug—like a mother. The therapies I received made me open up and be comfortable with new people,” Naomi shared. “The delicious meals in the dining room; the after-school tutoring that helped me excel in school; the clean clothes that were ironed and waiting in my closet every day; my beautiful bed and being tucked in at night all helped me recover and flourish. I left the children’s home strong and resilient, with a high school diploma and with a full toolbox for my future.”

Naomi went on to do national service, teaching music at the prestigious Democratic School of Israel, the first Ethiopian to do national service at the school. Currently, she is a full-time student at IDC University in Herzliya studying government. “Now I have very different expectations for my life and my future. I am full of optimism. Today I understand just how much the Emunah children’s home contributed to my life.” She then thanked the audience of Emunah supporters, saying “Thank you very much for believing in little Naomi; the big Naomi will never forget this.”

The Emunah Circle of Life Dinner served as an evening to pay tribute to honorees and to celebrate the accomplishments of the organization. The honorees included: Mindy & Muttie Stein, Presidential Leadership awardees; Maureen and Larry Eisenberg, Bonei Yerushalayim awardees; Eva Palgon Traub, Aishet Chayil awardee; and Sarah Struhl, Young Leadership awardee. Each honoree was featured in a personal video, and was then presented with a piece of artwork created by Noa Attias, a graduate of Emunah’s Florence and Joseph College of Art in Jerusalem.

Karen Spitalnick, Emunah’s national president, addressed the audience and thanked the dinner chairmen, Chanie Greif and Sheryl Schainker, for their role organizing the event. Funds raised from the dinner will benefit the thousands of children and families in Israel who rely upon Emunah’s social and educational services every day, including children like Naomi.

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