Therapeutic Woodworking Changes Lives at the Emunah Center in Afula

Your heartfelt dedication to our global Jewish community — and your generous donations to Federation’s Annual Campaign — ensure that vulnerable Israeli children have a safe haven to live, grow, and thrive. The Emunah Children’s Center, one of our Israel and Overseas partners, is an Israeli residential and afterschool therapeutic program serving at-risk children, particularly from the Afula-Gilboa region and surrounding areas. It is estimated that since opening in 1950, the Emunah Children’s Center has directly cared for 2,500 children, Holocaust survivors, immigrants, and “Sabras.” Shlomo Kessel, Director of Resource Development and Special Projects for the Emunah Organization in Israel, recently shared the inspiring story of a life-changing therapeutic woodworking program led by Segev, a former Emunah Children’s Center services recipient.

The Emunah Children’s Center’s therapeutic woodworking program is yet another example of a unique program currently available to the children of Emunah Afula. However, in this case, the creation of the program also embodies the success of one of our wonderful graduates and the culmination of his dreams.

Segev was a troubled and angry 11-year-old, a recent “Oleh” (immigrant) from Kazakhstan who found himself getting in trouble at school. Terrified of his difficult family life and physical abuse from his mother, Segev often stayed away from home until late at night, frequently getting into trouble.

Upon learning of Segev’s home situation, social workers rapidly intervened and he was placed at the Emunah Center in Afula, where he began to thrive. He settled down, engaged in his studies, and was loved and respected by friends and staff alike. In fact, Segev began to demonstrate leadership qualities; and, by the age of 15, he was appointed to the position of junior counselor, helping to care for some of Emunah Afula’s younger children. As he grew, Segev became empowered by his achievements, becoming chairman of the student council at his school, and enlisting in an elite unit in the IDF after graduation.

Following his release from the military, Segev discovered a new passion: carpentry. “My dream is to return to the Emunah Center and help other children,” he said.

Today, Segev is combining his dream with his passion: the expansion of Segev’s Social Carpentry Shop program. And what a great success! The Social Carpentry Shop Program operates at our campus in Afula. There are currently 24 teenage boys and girls, ages 14 through 18, who participate regularly in the program.

After participating in a brief orientation/training in which teens learn basic woodworking skills, safety regulations, and workplace practices, the teens work under Segev’s supervision to manufacture wooden garden furniture, swings, and other beautiful garden items. These items are then sold to friends, local residents, and the general public, with proceeds going to the Emunah children.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a good deal of programming at Emunah Afula was cancelled or downsized. However, Segev and the team at Emunah Afula realized that the carpentry workshop has the potential to offer not only a valuable therapeutic and educational opportunity, but also an excellent solution for the children locked down at the center due to the pandemic.

Throughout our seven decades in operation, The Emunah Children’s Center in Afula has impacted countless lives, reaching far beyond their direct recipients. We strongly believe that ensuring vulnerable Israeli children enjoy a better future is paramount to breaking the cycle of distress as we build a better world.

Click here to learn more about Emunah Children’s Center’s life-changing work.

Above: The Emunah Children’s Center’s woodworking program; image courtesy of Emunah Children’s Center.