Menachem never got to know his mom, who passed away when he was only ten months old. A few months ago tragedy struck his family once more when his father succumbed to cancer. As his father lay dying a court judge ruled that his grandmother was not fit to care for him. This was perhaps the biggest blow of all. Menachem loved his grandma and didn’t know that the funny things about her, the rambling speech and other eccentricities he found so endearing, attested to a mental disorder that, in the judge’s view, rendered her an unfit guardian. The extended family of aunts and uncles lived in a poor neighborhood, had too many mouths to feed and could not take in an orphan, the judge said. Before little Menachem, eight years old, could understand what new calamity had befallen him, even before his father was dead and buried, he was brought by the Welfare Authorities to the Neve Michael Emergency Crisis Center.
At first he couldn’t fathom what he was doing here and thought that we were the enemy. We arranged for his uncle to come here for a visit and explain the situation to him. There was no other choice, his uncle told him. These are good people and they will take care of you. Menachem kept his stony silence as if it were his last worldly possession. But in the coming months his resentment and suspicion, worsened by grief for his father, gradually subsided.
The best thing that Menachem has going for him is that he is basically a good natured, well-liked child. In spite of his ill-fated family background, he is a bright and healthy young boy who loves to participate in playground games and sports, especially soccer. The one advantage Menachem has over so many of our children who were traumatized by violence in the home is that he has a sense of fun and what being a kid is all about. This was clear to our guidance counselor after one session with him. Menachem knows all about heartbreak and pain, but he also has a childhood. And now he is getting a second chance at childhood here in the Neve Michael Children’s Village.
After a few months Menachem was assigned to live in one of our family homes, which consist of a married couple and their children who live in the Children’s Village. In the company of less fortunate children, and with the love and care of his family home, Menachem has found a Home.