An Israeli native who came to the U.S. with her Brooklyn-born husband she met in the Jewish state more than 40 years ago will be honored for her volunteer work by the Sephardic Temple of Cedarhurst at a fundraising luncheon on May 22.
Woodmere resident Rachel Gatenio, 67, met David while she was serving in the Israeli army. Gatenio and her husband form a formidable duo who have been instrumental in helping the Sephardic Temple raise money for the Americans for Israel and Torah (AMIT) school program, which operates 110 schools, youth villages and surrogate family programs throughout Israel.
It was earlier this year when Gatenio returned to Israel with her husband and had the chance to visit a home for indigent children in nearby Jerusalem, Beit Hayeled. During her visit, they were able to visit the campus. “We do this luncheon every year,” Gatenio said. “The temple chapter is usually a sponsor because the Beit Hayeled children need aid. “They had a reason for choosing me,” she said. “I really don’t know why.”
“It’s a living center, where the children go out of the building for school,” Gatenio said. “It’s a facility for girls. They live there and mingle with other kids. Families sponsor of adopt them.” Once the girls reach age 15, they leave the center.
Zipporah Marans, one of the co-chairs of the AMIT chapter at the Sephardic Temple, said that the Beit Hayeled children’s home was the temple’s pet project. “It’s a foster home for children who can’t live in their homes because they are not being well cared for at home,” she said. “These children have been damaged. They need to see how families live together nicely. The home helps young people to realize their full potential and to strengthen society.”
There are 128 children currently living at Beit Hayeled. The foster home needs $10 million to make the building repairs in the kitchens and roof repairs, for example. The Israeli Ministry of Education has committed about $405,000 to the renovation project at the school.
The fundraising luncheons have been successful in helping Beit Hayeled, Gatenio said. “The support of children at Beit Hayeled in the past has furnished the whole house,” she said. “Now we are fundraising to make living easier overall for the girls and their foster families. They need refurbished furniture and equipment, clothes and school supplies.”
Marans said that Gatenio was a good choice for someone to be honored at this year’s luncheon. “For about ten years, we’ve had this luncheon,” she said. “Rachel and her husband, David, are regular worshippers at the Sephardic Temple. She was born in Israel, knows exactly what AMIT does and what Beit Haleyed needs.”
To learn more about the fundraising luncheon at the Sephardic Temple of Cedarhurst, or to donate, call the Sephardic Temple at 295-4644. To read more about Beit Hayeled, visit http://midreshetamit.org/chessed/?id=149.