A decades old custom during Chanukah in Zion Orphanage has been to celebrate the Bar MItzvah of boys reaching 13 years of age. This year a festive and energy-filled party was enjoyed by all the participants on the occasion of two Zion Bar Mitzvah boys.
A Zion boy enjoying a card game on one of the tens of computers in use on campus.
Over 100 years ago, our founder Rabbi A.Y. Blumenthal emphasized confidence-building activities that enhance creativity and imagination. Today, whether it's music, photography, computers or electronics, these activities stimulate the Zion boys' social, emotional, linguistic and cognitive capabilities.
This week some of the Zion high school age boys began a course in designing and printing three dimensional objects (pictured).
Using a computer the students first design a custom-made 3D item and then print it. The object gradually appears as the 3D printer forms it using a special biodegradable plastic.
A new photography course on the Zion campus began a few weeks ago. It is providing the boys with the skills and discipline to become proficient photographers – while stimulating creativity, imagination, and the expression of emotions and feelings through pictures.
Each boy will choose his favorite pictures and write a series of brief descriptions. These photos will then be placed on display for all the Zion boys, staff and visitors to enjoy.
This picture was taken by one of the boys in the program.
During a recent visit to a local park one of the Zion boys wanted to enjoy the comport of wearing sandals. The problem was that none were available. Thinking "out of the box" he then came up with a very creative solution.
The Western Wall, a remnant of the Temple destroyed 2000 years ago, was liberated from the Jordanians on June 7th, 1967, during The 6 Day War. Soon afterwards apartment buildings leading up to the Kotel were taken down in order to make room for what is known today as the Western Wall Plaza.
A few months later a group of Zion Orphanage boys visited the holy site about which it says, "The Divine Presence has never left the area of the Western Wall", in order to pray (pictured). At that time the ground was still merely gravel, having not yet been paved.
Inserted is a picture from a relatively recent Bar Mitzvah celebration of a Zion boy.
The Zion boys enjoyed a full day in the beautiful and quiet Northern beginning at 5:00 in the morning. The trip included rafting in the Jordon river and a color war. The weather could not have been better.
One of the Zion Orphanage boys prepares for an exciting early evening game of soccer on our campus rooftop indoor/outdoor count.
This week both the Zion Boys Choir (pictured) and the Zion Band performed before hundreds of people affiliated with the Israel Ministries of Welfare Education.
In addition to playing many songs there was a question and answer session. The government departments wanted to better understand how the Zion boys were able to overcome their very challenging beginnings in life and gain the confidence to perform live before audiences.
The Zion Orphanage kids wish you a happy and healthy Rosh Hashana, New Year!
Zion Orphanage prides itself on creating a sense of family and caring among the boys. Pictured here is a festive Bar Mitzvah celebration, with music provided by the Zion Band and Choir.
Life goes on in Zion Orphanage. Extreme care is being taken to follow Health Ministry guidelines which change on a regular basis.
"Social distancing" has not been necessary within each of our "family units," similar to any other family. Distancing between different family units on campus is necessary.
Body temperatures are taken of the kids and staff on a daily basis. Anyone entering our campus, including staff and guests, are also tested.
All of the Zion Orphanage kids wish you an enjoyable and enlightened Hanukah.
The first night of Hanukah begins this coming Sunday evening.
Today there are 180 children and youth ages 8-22 living 24/7 in Zion Orphanage. Last week the older boys enjoyed a full day field trip to Northern Israel. This week it was the younger boys turn to enjoy the outing which included canoeing and swimming in the Jordan River, pictured.
Some Zion boys stopping off at a sand-filled playground on their way to the beach on the Mediterranean Sea.
During this week's cooking course the Zion boys enjoyed making their own tasty caramel coated apples.
In order to properly coat each apple the temperature of the caramel needs to reach 240°F or 116°C.
With war an unfortunate part of Israel's history, abandoned tanks, planes and halftracks dot the landscape. Here the Zion boys enjoy climbing on a tank turned into a jungle gym.
The Zion Choir performs at an event attended by guests and dignitaries. The choir, a source of great pride and esteem for the Zion boys, has produced a CD of four songs, as well as music videos.
During this past winter the Zion Orphanage campus received a uniquely designed water and air heating system.
Standard gas and electric heating systems tend to be quite expense and harm the environment. The new system collects heat from the environment and accumulates it in a huge hot water reservoir (pictured), while producing additional heat through a process of gas compression.
The pumps operate with high efficiency, work quietly, do not pollute the environment and is saving the Orphanage 70% of the previous heating costs.
When you enter the courtyard of Zion Orphanage, you can hear sounds usually heard only in a zoo or the wilderness. Our on-campus "mini-zoo" houses raccoons, hamsters, rabbits, talking parrots, birds, a snake, flying squirrels, a tarantula, fish and more. These comprise the foundation of our acclaimed animal-assisted therapy program.
On Tuesday evening Israel Chief Rabbi Yitzchok Yosef graced our latest festive Bar Mitzvah celebration.
Rabbi Yosef, an outstanding orator and huge Talmudic scholar, spoke warmly of his family's long-standing history with Zion Orphanage which began when his father, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, was the Chief Rabbi of Israel close to 50 years ago. His father frequently joined Bar Mitzvah celebrations of Zion boys on campus.
One of our many house mothers prepares a delicious birthday cake for one of the Zion boys
One of the older Zion boys practices keyboards during the afternoon break.
One of the Zion boys enjoying a newly painted campus wall mural.
In the Zion Arts and Crafts program the children are hard at work.
With enthusiastic anticipation the children are creating their personalized Purim masks to be worn as part of their Purim costumes.
The Zion Orphanage campus library provides each boy quiet time to look through an array of books with the option to borrow them for a week or more.
Last night Zion Orphanage celebrated the Bar Mitzvah of three boys under the stars in the large campus courtyard. Attending the exceptionally spirited event included members of the Israeli Knesset and the Jerusalem City counsel.
Springtime generates feelings of renewal and vitality as expressed by fresh, blossoming flowers. Working with plants can be a rewarding and therapeutic experience. Here a professional gardener teaches the Zion boys techniques for nurturing plants, along with a deeper appreciation of the wonders of creation.
A few days ago three more Zion Orphanage kids celebrated their Bar Mitzvah.
During the joyous celebration our Zion boys choir performed.
The Zion boys enjoyed driving and competing against one another at a local go karting track.
The Zion boys love their campus rooftop activities playing field.
These colder winter days do not inhibit the kids from enjoying a heated game of soccer.
Our recent Summer Camp featured the exotic and exciting adventure of rappelling. Here, a professional instructor explains to the enthralled Zion boys the guidelines for a safe and successful activity.
During a field trip the Zion boys were treated to some unexpected entertainment. One of our Zion counselors grabbed the opportunity to temporarily befriend this beautiful bird and this fast moving monkey, to the delight of the kids.
Pictured are the Zion boys enjoying a model Pesach seder in preparation of the exciting first night of Passover.
Also shown are coverings for matzah, products of our arts and crafts program.
The Zion Orphanage children wish you a happy and healthy festive Passover holiday!
Yesterday evening the Zion Orphanage shared in celebrating the dedication of our campus mini-zoo, primarily used for animal-assisted therapy.
Visiting from the USA was the dedicating family along with friends, featured in this weeks picture together with some Zion boys.
Following delicious pizza, ice cream cones and drinks and some words about the dedication, the visiting group and Zion boys danced with lots of enthusiasm.
Zion boys enjoying a game of soccer on our campus rooftop sports arena.
Through these activities, Zion boys learn vital life lessons in teamwork, perseverance, goal-setting, discipline, and leadership. All this is part of our commitment to developing well-rounded individuals, body and soul.
Along with the many new obligations of a Bar Mitzvah boy is wearing tefillin. The mitzvah of wearing tefillin is once a day on the head and on an arm. Of the many ideas behind wearing tefillin, one is to work towards using the mind and body in perfect harmony.
This week the Zion boys enjoyed an amazing day at Israels unique Yamit 2000 water park.
Yamit is located in the city of Holon near Tel Aviv on 15 acres of land (60 dunams). There are 20 different kinds of slides and a variety of swimming pools including one that produces waves. There is also a spa were the boys were able to workout and relax in an array of jacuzzis.
The Zion boys have been taught that Yom Kippur, along with the holiday's physical deprivation such as fasting and refraining from wearing comfortable leather shoes, is the most meaningful and impactful day of the year.
It is the day in which we focus almost exclusively on peeling away our mundane layers of superficiality in order to reach our true selves. A time designed to ignite that part deep inside of us capable injecting eternity into the rest of our being.
With five weeks left before the festive holiday of Purim the Zion boys are beginning the next arts and crafts project. They are making custom-fit masks.
The kids begin with a net and apply plaster. Once the masks are dry they paint the masks as they wish.
A group of the oldest Zion boys just returned from spending a week in the European cities of Warsaw and Cracow, Poland. The intention was for them to gain a taste of the Holocaust and life in Eastern Europe that led up to the war.
As interesting as the boys found the history, the deepest and lasting impression will be from the broadening their minds. It was the first time they traveled abroad.
The pictures were taken by one of the Zion boys as they visited the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau.
Thank you to all who responded generously to our recent postal Passover mailing highlighting the new campus student residence campaign.
Apparently, some experienced difficulty donating online. Please take this opportunity now to help the Zion boys.
A couple of Zion boys are enjoying the art of finger painting.
Pictured are some Zion boys performing during the annual Purim play.
The Zion Orphanage children and staff wish you a very happy and uplifting Purim celebration!
Along with skateboarding, ping pong, swimming and team sports, martial arts is one of the physical activities enjoyed by the Zion boys. In addition to the benefits of daily exercise, each participant gains confidence in his ability to defend himself and others when necessary. Here the Zion boys receive training in Krav Maga, the Israeli self-defense system.
On an evening outing, Zion boys enjoy a sculpture located near Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem.
Help Zion Orphanage boys through these difficult times
Across the globe, we are all feeling the challenging effects of coronavirus.
Here at Zion Orphanage, we are working overtime to facilitate the boys' educational, recreational, and emotional needs.
We now turn to you, our beloved friends and sponsors, to join in making the upcoming Passover holiday a bit brighter for the Zion boys.
With prayers for the recovery of all who are ill, we wish you a blessed, safe and healthy Passover.
This week, we are turning to you, our most dedicated supporters.
Zion Orphanage recently received a notice of new government regulations, requiring major construction to expand our living facilities – at a cost of $1.3 million USD.
ZO runs on a tight budget and does not have extra funds to meet the new criteria while continuing to provide high-level 24/7 care for 130 Zion boys.
We greatly need your help in this one-time emergency campaign.
Rabbi Baruch Rakovsky, CEO of Zion Orphanage, and Rabbi Gershon Unger, Director of Development, will be in the U.S. from November 10-20 seeking to secure the funds for this emergency campaign..
The Zion boys thank you. Your contribution will make a real difference in saving lives.
Our ZO photography course provides new perspectives and appreciation for the world around them. The blue affect in this photo, taken by one of the Zion boys, is the result of a black light used to light up the room.
Following the coat campaign the Zion boys enjoyed a field trip to chilly but beautiful Northern Israel.
For those who participated in providing the much needed jackets, THANK YOU!
All of the children and staff at Zion Orphanage want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and wish you an exceptionally sweet and successful New Year, all in good health and happiness.
A Zion boy enjoying our arts and crafts program.
The Zion kids love swimming. Besides the great fun involved, learning how to manage in water is one of those essential skills everyone should know.
Although there is no pool on campus, the boys are treated to regular swimming outings at one of the local public swimming pools in the city of Jerusalem.
At Zion Orphanage, we encourage a balance of healthy body, mind and soul. Here, some Zion boys enjoy creative gymnastics in our indoor exercise facility.
Interesting enough, even during the colder days of winter most of the Zion children enjoy playing with ice cubes and placing them in their drinks. When asked how this makes sense the Zion boy responded, "I do not understand the question!"
With Chanukah speedily approaching, the Zion boys are hard at work in their arts and crafts program with their holiday project.
Bamba is an Israeli snack enjoyed by children throughout the world. Made from peanut butter-flavored puffed corn, Bamba contains no cholesterol, preservatives or food coloring and is enriched with vitamins. Recently, the Zion boys enjoyed competing to produce the most creative design by sticking the Bambas together with toothpicks.
As the Zion boys are doing their final costume shopping they are gearing up for one of the most exciting days of the year. When most locations in the world begin the festive holiday of Purim Wednesday evening, in Jerusalem we begin Thursday evening.
One of the Zion boys spends some time relaxing in his family unit before going to sleep for the night at 9:00 pm along with his new stuffed animal.
This coming Sunday marks the 55th yahrzeit of Rabbi Avraham Yochanan Blumenthal, the founder of Zion Orphanage in 1899 and father to thousands.
Rabbi Blumenthal, together with his wife Chana Shaina, dedicated their lives to housing and nurturing Jewish children and youth towards self-sufficiency. A testimony to their pure intentions is their legacy, the home for the homeless and less fortunate continues to strive and expand to this day.
The Zion boys will be praying for the cherished supporters of Zion Orphanage at his gravesite. If you have a specific request then please respond to the message with your name.
With seemingly boundless energy, Zion boys love to explore and play on our one-acre campus in the heart of Jerusalem.
This week the Zion boys are enjoying the newly installed cushioned playground floor thanks to the generosity of some Zion Orphanage supporters.
The Zion boys recently enjoyed delicious ice cream cones at a local favorite ice cream store.
Although it's been quite cold here in Jerusalem, there was a break from the rainy weather. Besides, kids tend to like ice cream no matter what the weather.
In anticipation of an upcoming performance, members of the Zion Choir practice their choreographic moves.
A Zion Orphanage tradition is to have numerous special activities the week of Purim, this year taking place the end of next week. The boys who did not choose to design their own masks are picking from an array of makeup to decorate their faces.
This past Tuesday, November 30th, Israeli Parliament (Knesset) minister David Azulay passed away.
Born in Morocco, David Azulay came to Israel at age five in 1963 with his family. Two years later he entered his new home, the Zion Orphanage, where he remained for seven years.
David later began a 20-year teaching career. With time he became the school's assistant principal and later the principle. Recognized and appreciated as being exceptionally gifted, he was asked to join the city's municipality and for years he worked in both education and in politics.
In 1997 David became a member of the Knesset, serving for over 20 years representing the Sephardic political party. During his political career he focused primarily on social welfare issues, sitting on numerous committees involving education, public health, environment, security and finance.
May his memory always be a source of inspiration.
A Zion photography course student captured the beginnings of a cucumber grown in our agriculture course.
He explains that once the flower dries up a tiny cucumber will appear. In a matter of less than three weeks a fully developed organic vegetable will be ready to be picked and enjoyed straight or cut into a salad.
Nachman Porat, the outstanding drumming instructor in Zion Orphanage, performs professionally with the popular Israeli band Minagnim.
Pictured is Nachman performing for the Zion boys along with his full band during a recent celebration. Also pictured is a Zion boy practicing drumming.
As part of the new agriculture program the Zion high school age boys build their own on-campus garden (pictured upper left) including the fenced in area and the digitally run irrigation system. This week they enjoyed eating the first grown vegetables, long yellow beans.
Purim is the holiday marking a complete reversal of a decree for annihilation to survival and prosperity which came about through unity.
The Zion Orphanage boys wish you a joyous and uplifting Purim celebration.
All of the Zion boys wish you a happy and festive holiday of Shavuot, along with prayers for good health and happiness always!
At ZO, one of the many fun, experiential activities is cooking and baking. An effective way to develop creativity and independence, the boys gain a firsthand sensory experience, both in preparing the food and enjoying the delicious results.
With the recent record-breaking cold in Israel, the Zion boys are grateful for their new pillows and blankets, donated by Rabbi and Mrs. Eli Mansour of the Bet Yaakob synagogue in Brooklyn, New York.
The Zion Orphanage campus was buzzing with excitement this week when Jewish rap star Nissim Black came to film a music video together with the Zion boys.
Nissim composed an original song, "Change," relating to his own experience of a challenging childhood, which ties into Zion Orphanage giving boys a second chance to reach their potential. The video is now being edited and will be released on all media channels next month. (photo: Nissim performs with the Zion Choir in our beautiful campus synagogue.)
Zion boys enjoy a camel ride in the Negev desert.
At Zion Orphanage, we emphasize our Jewish heritage as the "People of the Book." Our full-stocked reading library provides hours of enriching activity for the Zion boys.
Computer skills are an essential part of today's education. Our dual-faceted course provides both the basic ability of working with computers, as well as entrance to a higher level proficiency. Computer graphics, combining creative and technical, is now part of the Zion boys' standard curriculum.
A century ago at Zion Orphanage, it was common to have 10 or more boys in one room. Today, with our highly-acclaimed "Mishpachtone" family units, each child has a maximum of three roommates. Pictured here is a Zion boy reading a book from our well-stocked Zion Library.
The Zion boys are hard at work preparing their custom-make Purim masks in preparation for next week's festive holiday celebration.
This historical photo from 1967 shows Zion boys at the newly-liberated Western Wall in Jerusalem.
The Zion boys look forward to our annual chess and checkers tournament. Among the many benefits of this activity is teaching the boys patience, strategy, and to carefully consider consequences before "making the next move."
This past Saturday evening generous supporters from Brooklyn, New York, treated the Zion kids to an evening of fun. They were in Israel to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of two of their boys and wanted to share the joyous occasion.
The activities included a Krav Maga demonstration, a Chanukah arts and crafts project and lots of dancing.
The Zion boys having some creative in-house balloon fun.
A few Zion boys were treated on Thursday to a delicious dinner at a local restaurant here in Jerusalem. The dishes including individual pizzas with the toppings of their choices, milkshakes, Belgian waffles and ice cream.
The occasion marked ten years since the passing of a ten year old boy who was tragically killed by a passing car. Joining the kids was the sponsoring family from Tel Aviv whose son was a close friend of the boy.
Many of the Zion boys who visited Poland related that the most emotionally impactful experience of the trip was their visit to the southern Polish village of Zbylitowska Góra, near Tarnów 71 km (44 mi) east of Kraków.
From June 1942 until 1943, during the Final Solution, the Germans used the close by Buczyna forest as a mass execution site. The largest mass shooting took place on June 11th,1942. The massacre took the lives of 6,000 Jewish men, women and children including 800 children from the Tarnów Orphanage, killed in the pits using hand grenades.
Some of the Zion boys on the trip are pictured at the forest memorial where they took turns reading excepts from stories about the place.
One of them read that the Nazis, before killing the children, had them first remove and neatly fold their cloths and lineup their shoes before entering the pit to be murdered.
The Zion boys enjoy an array of computer activities including games, graphics and typing documents.
Aside from two separate rooms full of computers, one for the younger kids and one for the older kids, each family unit enjoys its own computer (pictured).
The releasing of the new video this week has created a buzz on the Zion Orphanage campus. The Zion boys are excited about having been a part of the enjoyable clip being seen by tens of thousands of viewers.
Every day the Zion boys return home from school at 4 p.m., in time for a hot meal and afternoon activities. Pictured are the boys enjoying a summer picnic with a staff counselor.
Zion Orphanage is located in downtown Jerusalem on one acre of land. In the central courtyard of our campus is a jungle gym that offers the Zion boys a healthy release of energy.
Photography is one of the most popular activities at Zion Orphanage. Here, one Zion boy takes a creative photo of another, reflected in the window of his bedroom.
With the weather warming up in Israel, the Zion boys look forward to field trips throughout the beautiful and diverse Land of Israel. If you are visiting Israel during these summer months, please come by to meet the children and staff.
After a stimulating day at school, this Zion boy enjoys some gymnastics
The Zion boys put on a beautiful performance during an open house evening for family and friends of the boys.
An array of songs were played by different Zion musicians from our music program and they performed a captivating play (pictured).
The Zion boys are always excited about this time of year in the Jewish calendar. During the month of Tishrei occurs Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Succot, Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah.
Following the two days celebrating the beginning of the new year begins the building of succot (huts) and the purchase of arba minim (four species:lulov, etrog, haddasim and arrovot), while mentally preparing for the fast day of atonement. Then follows the greatest community celebrations of the year.
Still, all the Zion boys remain on campus throughout the day, even though restrictions in Israel are gradually being removed.
As part of the extra-special activities for the Zion boys, they remained fascinated throughout the performance of top Israel magician Shimi Illuzini.
Rabbi Reuven Elbaz, a beloved leader of Sephardic Jewry, is a frequent visitor to Zion Orphanage. Here he speaks at a Zion boy's Bar Mitzvah celebration.
Zion Orphanage offers the boys numerous therapies including play therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and animal-assisted therapy.
Similar to play therapy, animal therapy does an amazing job at getting each child to verbalize his closely guarded inner world.
Among the furry animals in our mini-zoo are chinchillas and rabbits.
This weeks picture features a collage of the Zion boys preparing Middle Eastern dishes during their cooking course.
During these trying times, having a friend to speak with, to share thoughts and feelings with is so very important.
In accordance with the Israeli Health and Social Welfare Ministries all of the 180 Zion Orphanage boys ages 8-23 must stay on campus throughout the day and night. That means all our staff on campus are having to keep the kids occupied and entertained throughout the day.
Most of the Zion boys are finding comfort during this worldwide time of uncertainty and their need to stay in one place by developing and enhancing friendships among themselves.
Students of our photography course enjoyed a trip to the forest on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Following each photography session the Zion boys edit their own pictures. Some create collages while others prepare pictures for magnets and so on.
Boys from our Zion Band and Choir recently spent many hours in a professional recording studio in Jerusalem, producing a new CD. Pictured here, as viewed through the studio glass booth, Zion boys focus intently on their recording session.
Our highly-successful "Mishpachtone" family units consist of an energetic young couple and a group of twelve Zion boys. This unique arrangement provides a genuine sense of caring family life. Here the boys share together some quiet reading time.
Zion Orphanage was abuzz this week with a visit by popular rap artist (and observant Jew) Nissim Black. Having grown up in a challenging family situation in Seattle, Nissim found common ground with the Zion boys -- and expressed his desire to become more involved with the Orphanage.
This past Thursday evening, the third candle lighting of Chanukah, six Zion boys celebrated their Bar Mitzvahs.
Pictured are the birthday boys watching Israel's Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef share words of insight and inspiration.
Also shown are the Zion choir performing; The Zion band playing along; And a partial glimpse of the crowd under an outdoor tent built to keep the 250 participants nice and warm.
For the Zion boys, prayer is an opportunity to open their heart and develop their inner world. The Zion boys' prayers have a unique power, as King David states in Psalms, "God is the Father of all orphans."
This week two Zion boys enjoyed their exceptionally extravagant Bar Mitzvah celebrations. This time the setting was at a hall in the Judean Desert overlooking The Dead Sea.
Performing at the joyous event was the Zion Choir.
All the children and staff of Zion Orphanage wish you a very happy and enlightening eight days of Hanukkah!
Every child loves birthday gifts
Yesterday evening the Zion kids were joined by a generous family from New York in Israel to celebrate their Bar Mitzvah. Wanting to share their joy with children less fortunate than them, the younger Zion boys thoroughly enjoyed the incredible Israeli juggler entertainer Yosef Broide, live music performed Zion's band and delicious pizza and ice cream. Mazal tov!
One of our Zion Martial Arts students provides a glimpse of what he is learning.
Four cousins from New York came to Israel with their families for their Bar Mitzvahs. Thanks to their generosity they sponsored a Bar Mitzvah celebration for three Zion boys. All enjoyed an extravagant affair with lots of festive dancing.
Do you remember as a child creating bubbles from soap?
The kids of today enjoy lots of activities we had never even dreamed of in our youth, such as these Zion boys producing gigantic soap bubbles.
During the past month Israel has been enjoying much needed rain. One of the many benefits is an increased flow of water in the Jordan River, enjoyed by the Zion boys during the recent rafting trip.
Now that the beautiful springtime weather in Israel has arrived the Zion boys are wasting no time in taking advantage of it.
Pictured are the kids jumping from the campus playground.
Our Big Brother program is a crucial component of the Zion boys' development. With all the caring and friendly teachers, house parents and therapists, none compares to the feeling of closeness and openness with a "big brother." Armed with great patience and outstanding listening skills, they walk together, go out for a bite together, study together and share life stories.
What has now become an annual winter excursion, this week the Zion boys visited the Hamat Gader hot springs.
Located right off of Israel's freshwater Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) in the southern part of the Golan Heights, the gushing springs of therapeutic hot thermal water were an absolute delight to bathe and swim in during the cold winter night. The hot springs resort was reserved solely for the Zion kids from 1:00 - 3:00 am.
Zion Orphanage recently celebrated the publication of a stunning book that chronicles the century-plus history of the orphanage. Our founder, Rabbi A.Y. Blumenthal, pioneered the practice of providing not just a place of refuge, but the highest standards of a stable, healthy environment
A family from New York were in Israel celebrating the Bar Mitzvah of two cousins. Wanting to share their joy, they chose to provide lots of things for the Zion boys.
The special afternoon consisted of pizza, falafel, popcorn, cotton candy and a performance by an actor (pictured). In addition, the popular Israeli Ice Cream parlor Zisalek brought their delicious ice cream and condiments to the on-campus event and made Belgian waffles for all the participants.
Around the world, these days of coronavirus have been a time of introspection and taking stock. The Zion boys have enjoyed the quiet time off of school, with the opportunity to appreciate life's many blessings, with compassion and solidarity for the many coronavirus victims.
During a recent trip to Northern Israel's Golan Heights the Zion boys were able to enjoy the bountiful flow of the Jordan River, a direct result of our recent rains.
Enjoying a quiet moment in a Zion Orphanage family unit.
Close to two weeks ago the Zion boys returned to school outside of the campus during the morning and early afternoon hours. With a recent spike in coronavirus cases in Israel, hundreds of new cases here in Jerusalem alone, the kids are being extra careful to following the current guidelines issued by the Israel Health Ministry.
Pictured is one of the Zion children demonstrating his jumping abilities.
Every Jewish boy looks forward to his Bar Mitzvah. At Zion Orphanage, we strive to make the day extra-special, with live music, dignitaries, and a lavish meal. Pictured here is a recent Bar Mitzvah celebration held across from the Western Wall.
This winter Israel has been benefiting from an abundance of rainfall. Along with the rain, Northern Israel has seen much snow. That meant super-special fun for the Zion boys who enjoyed an afternoon on Mount Hermon located 2800 meters/9200 feet above sea level.
Last Thursday families from New York in Israel to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of three of their sons invited the younger Zion boys to an afternoon of activities, food and music in the picturesque Judean Hills.
Pictured are some members of the families dancing with some of the Zion kids.
The Zion boys really enjoyed a visit to an Israeli Army base. Besides trying on equipment and getting a taste of army life, they asked the soldiers lots of questions.
At a recent ZO Bar Mitzvah event, a popular Israeli singer stopped by to honor the Bar Mitzvah boy and give an impromptu performance. As one of Jerusalem's oldest and most respected institutions, Zion Orphanage is the beneficiary of frequent visits from leading Israeli rabbis, politicians, and performers.
Our older Zion boys enjoy weekly cooking classes as they work towards achieving self-sufficiency.
Last week's Bar Mitzvah celebration was graced by Moshe Abutbul who grew up in Zion Orphanage. Moshe, formally the mayor of Beit Shemesh for eight years, serves the county today as a member of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament).
Pictured is Moshe in 1975 sitting on the right side at his birthday celebration on campus. The second picture is Moshe in his office.
In the days leading up to Purim, the Zion boys enjoy making their own masks. The process begins with molding a custom-fit clay masks. Once the mask is dry, each boy paints something creative. Similar to the Talmudic insight that "Just as no two faces are alike, so too each person is unique," each of the Zion boys' masks ended up being distinct.
Our post-high school age boys (ages 18-22) enjoyed flying abroad for a five day visit to Georgia, formerly a part of the Soviet Republic.
Besides touring the beautiful and diverse country, most of the participants took along their professional cameras and took lots of amazing pictures.
The Zion boys enjoyed the magic of the well known Israeli magician, Shimi Luzini.
Last night the Zion boys were treated to playing with the popular Japanese toy LaQ. Teaching the children was visiting Japanese native Masashi.
The emergency renovation campaign has reached 35% of the goal in three weeks. THANK YOU! The campaign ends on the festival of lights called Hanukah which begins this year December 23rd. Please join the effort and provide the Zion Orphanage kids with the amazing gift of knowing their cherished supporters are ensuring they are receiving all they need.
Pictured is a beautifully renovated family unit dining room, an example of the work presently taking place on campus.
Featured this week is the newly-built on-campus Zion recording studio.
The Zion boys in the music program are hard at work recording and performing for the newest Zion Orphanage clip which will be made available for your enjoyment in the coming weeks.
Often, a child arriving at Zion Orphanage is in survival mode. For many, the act of caring for animals, as part of our animal-assisted therapy, is an effective way to spark a turnaround in attitude. Here a Zion boy connects with animals at our popular on-campus mini-zoo.
As Chanukah approaches, the Zion boys are hard at work designing their custom menorahs. A generous supporter recently donated the clay-baking oven which now enables the boys to produce hand-crafted earthenware gems, from start to finish.
Prior to summer vacation the Zion kids enjoyed an evening of entertainment featuring a show by "Nekuda Tova" (literally, "a Good Point"), an Israeli performing arts group.
Some of the Zion boys pose for a picture from the campus playground which was donated by the Goldman family of Boston, Massachusetts, 50 years ago. Needless to say, it has been repainted numerous times since then.
This week another Zion boy enjoyed his festive Bar Mitzvah celebration on our campus.
With lots of energy needing an outlet, the Zion boys are using creative ways to exercise. In addition to our rooftop sports center, the Zion boys have turned to "indoor exercise" activities to persevere, burn calories and reduce stress.
Following summer camps and trips, in order to provide something special for the new school year the Zion kids enjoyed lots of food treats (hotdogs, cotton candy, popcorn, slushes), music and some fun activities on campus. Pictured is a Zion boy captured in mid-air, fearlessly jumping backwards on an air-filled trampoline.
One of the most enjoyable activities for Zion boys is making their own Purim costumes. Nothing quite matches the pleasure of working hard on a project, then personally benefiting from it and sharing it with others.
The Zion boys are enjoying a bonfire and BBQ on the festive day in the Jewish calendar known as Lag B'Omer, marking the passing of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai over 1800 years ago in the town of Meron, Israel.
Although the annual day marking the passing of a loved one is usually a solemn one, Rabbi Shimon's day is celebrated.
Rabbi Shimon, also known as Rashbi (the acronym of his full name), was the primary disciple of Rabbi Akiva. His name is found throughout the oral Torah teachings, including in the Kabbalistic work called the Zohar.
Rashbi had many outstanding disciples, including his son Rabbi Elazar, to who he taught all that he knew. There was one more part of the secrets of Torah which he had yet revealed to the world known as the Idra Zuta (laterally, a small threshing floor). It was on this last day of his life on earth that he chose to share these final teachings. For this reason the day is celebrated.
Today a generous family from New York treated the Zion kids to an ice cream party.
The activity was playing with large exercise balls.
All participants really enjoyed themselves.
In honor of Zion boys' birthdays, we strive to provide a memorable experience that includes popular singers, jugglers and clowns.
Through the generosity of a donor, the Zion boys were recently treated to an elaborate ice cream party, with various flavors and toppings. The sweet taste is a message to them of how much people care.
Thanks to the generosity of supporters from Kew Gardens Hills, New York, who twinned their son's Bar Mitzvah, two Zion Bar Mitzvah boys enjoyed an exceptionally lavish celebration.
Mr. Amram Sudri was in Zion Orphanage/Blumenthals as a child over 70 years ago.
Amram's unscheduled return happened to occur during recently elected Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon's first time visit to Zion Orphanage.
This is what Amram shared with the enthusiastic Mayor (pictured).
"I was born in the city of Fez in Morocco, immigrating to Israel with my father. On the way we made our way through Algiers where we were held up for close to a year and a half. During that time, we lived in the building of the local synagogue where we ate and slept.
Shortly after arriving in Israel my father was drafted into the army. I was left alone in transit.
An impoverished Jew brought me to the orphanage where Rabbi Blumenthal and his wife welcomed me warmly and raised me like their own son.
I am very excited to be back in my former home of my childhood years. As difficult as it was during that period in my life, I have only good memories from those days in the orphanage."
Teaching self-sufficiency is a constant objective in our work with the Zion boys. We recently held a cooking contest, where the boys divided into groups, each equipped with all the food and equipment needed to prepare a full-course meal. The results far exceeded exceptions, with all participants, including the judges, thoroughly enjoying the process and the delicious concoctions.
Winter has arrived here in Israel. Wednesday's dinner included a delicious hot bowl of vegetable soup.
Major dental-orthodontic work is crucial to fulfilling the Zion Orphanage pledge: to give each boy the best opportunity possible to succeed and excel in life. Please contribute towards this campaign.
Snow falls in Jerusalem only once every few years. Here the Zion boys enjoy a good-natured snowball fight in the courtyard of our Jerusalem campus.
Zion boys taking a short break between some afternoon extra-curricular activities such as arts and crafts, martial arts, computers, electronics and photography.
For those with talent and the opportunity to learn, there is nothing like producing your own music. Zion boys love their keyboard lessons
During the cold winter months, the Zion boys require quality blankets in order to sleep comfortably warm. A few years ago, a family of generous supporters from Brooklyn who sell comforters contacted us, insisting on providing the boys with natural goose-feather blankets. Now, to accommodate the increasing number of boys under our care, they purchased another 70 sets of comforters, down pillows and beautiful sheets.
There is nothing like music to light up the soul. At ZO, musical instruments are a powerful form of self-expression and confidence builder. Pictured here is a Zion boy who has fallen in love with the drums.
The Talmud (Ketubot 111b) says: "Better than providing the physical nourishment of milk, is providing the spiritual nourishment of a smile."
Your gift to the Zion Dental Fund will help 26 Zion boys in urgent need of serious orthodontic treatment -- providing the confidence to allow their inner light to burst forth with a smile!
All sorts of interesting indoor activities are keeping the Zion boys busy during these challenging times. Pictured are the kids using their creativity by piecing together with toothpicks the Israeli peanut flavored snack called Bamba.
The Zion boys are full of healthy energy. Summer or winter, day or night, our new rooftop Sports Center provides protection from the elements and space for the boys to enjoy a variety of athletics including soccer, basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and more.
Over the past three months there has been some major building taking place on the Zion campus. The construction is to create more rooms and to provide each Zion boy with additional space. Although it has not been easy living through it, the construction company is working amazingly fast and hopes to complete all the renovations within a month.
In anticipation of the festive holiday of Succot, the Zion boys are busy with an arts and crafts project
Prior to enjoying a festive Bar Mitzvah celebration in the evening, the Zion Bar Mitzvah boys and their friends pray at the Jerusalem Old City Kotel (Western Wall).
Following an exceptional rainy winter the rivers and steams in Northern Israel are flowing steadily and with force.
Yesterday the Zion boys enjoyed a full day of hiking, swimming and camping in the Upper Galilee.
A couple of Zion boys enjoying an engaging game of chess
You could feel the energy in the air during a recent fun-filled evening of group competitions. Pictured here, in the courtyard of Zion Orphanage, the boys engage in a modified skateboard race.
Zion Orphanage founder Rabbi Blumenthal was a master at empowering children with self confidence and the skills to become accomplished members of society.
Featured this week is the Zion choir, an unbroken chain of tradition introduced by Rabbi Blumenthal over 70 years ago.
The picture from 1954 is from the grand opening of the current Zion Orphanage location on the corner of Hoshea and Yechezkel streets in Jerusalem.
One highlight of ZO's annual Summer Camp is rafting down the Jordan River, north of the Sea of Galilee. Due to its rich biblical and spiritual importance, the Jordan River, provides inspiration for countless songs, stories, and fun for the Zion boys.
Zion boys in our arts and crafts program are hard at work preparing their projects for the eight days of Hanukah which begin next Thursday evening.
This week Israel experienced the first rain of the winter season. It still remains warm enough, though, for the Zion kids to enjoy some water fun at a local park here in Jerusalem.
The weather is still pleasant here in Jerusalem. This week the Zion boys enjoyed skating and other sports activities in the city's largest park, Gan Soccer.
The Zion Orphanage children and staff would like to take this special opportunity to wish you an exceptionally joyous and successful new Jewish year. Shana Tova!
Every child cherishes the experience of riding a new bicycle, especially when it's "his own." A generous supporter from New York recently purchased beautiful new bikes for the Zion boys.
The high school age Zion boys enjoy a photography course. Over the past corona year outings were severely limited but now the students are able to go to diversified locations in order to capture all sorts of scenes.
During one of the the recent Hanukah parties the Zion boys danced with all of their energy.
Rosh Hashana, also known as The Day Of Judgement according to Jewish tradition, is over.
Still, the ten days finishing with Yom Kippur, known also as The Day Of Atonement, provide an opportunity to sweeten the verdict.
A mere four days later will be the festive holiday of Succot. The Zion kids are already assisting in building succot (huts) which will become the primary dwelling place, weather permitting, for the entire holiday.
For most Zion boys, Hebrew is their only spoken language. Many visitors to our Jerusalem campus have inquired about the need for the boys to learn English, the universal language. Thanks to a recent donation, we hired Rabbi Chaim Gogek, a language teacher with an outstanding reputation and over 30 years of experience. The English classes are animated and fu, with the boys quickly acquiring their new language skills.
Our annual Summer Camp features hiking in the fresh-water streams of the Golan Heights. The boys get a change of scenery, fresh air, and an appreciation of the beauty of our natural world. After a full day of activities, the Zion boys pass out from exhaustion
A special springtime treat is an outing to the local amusement park. Here, the Zion boys gain their composure before embarking on a thrilling ride.
The Zion Orphanage kids enjoying "Lag B'Omer", the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer.
Following the festive holiday of Pesach there is a renewed feeling of summer is in the air. With a combination of warm weather and the ability to return to field trips throughout the beautiful land of Israel, an abundance of vacationers can be seen everywhere.
The Zion boys just returned from hiking in Northern Israel following the plentiful winter rainy season we just enjoyed.
During this quite a warm week here in Israel the Zion kids especially enjoyed the new ice making machine.
This week Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon and staff visited the Zion Orphanage campus in order to learn more about the world's longest running home for homeless Jewish children.
Pictured is the Mayor standing next to a Zion boy and a Zion social worker. In the background stands one of the mayor's security guards.
Nissim Black films music video at Zion Orphanage
Unique Sponsorship Opportunity
A Zion Orphanage martial arts student practicing in the city what he has learned in our Krav Magga self-defense program.
Zion boys enjoy a trip to northern Israel and Mount Hermon, the country's tallest peak. A cable car ride up the mountain offers fresh mountain air and panoramic vistas.
During these dangerous and uncertain times, the Zion boys have made it a priority to pray for the safety and well-being of people throughout the world. Zion Orphanage helps the boys appreciate that -- given their personal experience with challenge and adversity -- their prayers have particular power.
One of the Zion boys proudly shows a member of staff his nicely developing cactus plant.
The Zion boys were treated to a lively performance from a popular local entertainer and teacher, Yosef the Juggler. Pictured is him holding four kids while balancing on a round cylinder.
With daytime temperatures here in Jerusalem hovering around 90°F (23°C) throughout the week the Zion boys enjoyed an afternoon at the pool.
Zion Orphanage recently opened a new program, custom designed for high functioning high school age Down Syndrome children.
Pictured are the boys learning how to use an electric-powered drill during a visit to the Jerusalem Forest.
The Zion boys are completing their arts and crafts project in anticipation of the festive holiday of Pesach.
Featured are some of their hand painted matzoh covers.
A cold spell has hit Jerusalem and a number of Zion boys lack warm winter coats. Each coat costs $86 (USD) and 40 boys are in need.
Help with this urgent 24-hour campaign to bring physical and emotional warmth to these precious Zion boys who come from challenging backgrounds.
Give the "gift of warmth" today!
This week the Zion boys were ecstatic over the story and gifts each one received.
An organization by the name of "Children Giving To Children International" based in San Diego, CA, matched up a local synagogue with Zion Orphanage. They worked for months making handmade blankets. Then the heads of the organization brought the beautiful and warm blankets to Israel in order to enjoy giving them to each child.
This Saturday night, the holiday Shavuot, more than 100 Zion boys will remain awake throughout the night studying Torah and involved in meaningful activities.
You can help sponsor the festive holiday meals and snacks to invigorate the Zion boys’ learning.
Donate now -- and enjoy the merit of the Zion boys' Shavuot Torah study!
As the Zion boys reach the age when it is time to leave Zion Orphanage our music program repeatedly faces the challenge of finding new talent among the younger boys. Some of the boys are already known to have good voices and to be musically inclined so having them join the program is obvious. Occasionally though, our five music instructors which include teachers for guitar, drums, keyboards, voice and the choir, are quite pleasantly surprised.
Pictured is one of the Zion singers in own on campus recording studio.