The Forever Chai Foundation of Canada’s mission is to give children and their mothers in crisis, the hope and promise of a brighter future by providing funds to assist with their care.
Incorporated, November 16th 2009, the Forever Chai Foundation of Canada (FCFC) is the former ”Canadian Friends of the Shabtai Levi Home” and is a charitable organization with the flexibility to meet changing needs. FCFC reflects both the lifetime responsibility we take upon ourselves as adults to care for future generations, as well as the long-term impact on the life of each young mother and abused, neglected or abandoned child.
The Forever Chai Foundation has a website, www.foreverchai.org and its directors Ellen Goldstein, Marya Grad, Esther Michaels, Cynthia Small and their committee and friends, proudly support the Shabtai Levi Home (SLH)-a non-denominational Emergency/Residential Centre, in Haifa Israel.
On December 4, 2002, the sixth night of Chanukah, the lives of the children at the SLH were made brighter when an evening was arranged by Ellen Goldstein and Joann Gold. Gathered in the beautiful home of Freema and Joe Trager, guests heard the award winning filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici share stories about his success in the film industry and the importance of rescuing Jews worldwide, whether from Ethiopia or the children and mothers at the Shabtai Levi Home.
That evening, Bible studies teacher, Channa Sargon introduced her good friend Nitza Bendor, Director of the Shabtai Levi Home. Channa then shared, with her students and friends, stories of the wonderful work Nitza and her team were providing for the many physically and emotionally abused children in their care, resulting in the launch of the Canadian Friends of the Shabtai Levi Home (CFSLH). Nitza briefed the attendees on the many successes they have had but also her frustration on how much more could be done, if only they had the funds to expand on their dreams.
As a result, CFSLH committed themselves to raising funds to hire more staff at the home and take on the major project of a new rehabilitation centre for mothers and their children-the Mother/Child Unit, the first of its kind in Israel.
The Mother/Child Unit currently receives several referrals weekly from the Israeli Welfare and Juvenile Courts. In separate units, young mothers live with their child(ren) and progress through this supportive setting towards living as independent families. This unit accommodates mothers and their children who can live-in and be taught how to care for their infant, as they are supervised and evaluated. For their babies, it is truly a second chance at life. For Haifa's community and Israel, the social and economic impact of the Shabtai Levi Home has been tremendous.
On Sunday, April 3, 2005, Debra Alexander, Ellen Goldstein, and Cynthia Small, invited a larger group of 75 supporters to an event appropriately named "Sumptuous Sunday", as all those in attendance enjoyed an elegant lunch, hosted by the generous Bregman Family, and a rare opportunity to view Joseph Tanenbaum’s private art collection. Mr. Tanenbaum graciously welcomed our supporters to his private art gallery to view his personal, world-renowned African and Naivee art collection while providing all attendees with his historic, fascinating and charming commentary as he shared his love, interest and knowledge of his collection with the guests. Over lunch, beautifully presented by the Bregman family in their home, Ya’acov Brosh, the Consulate General of Israel, and Nitza Bendor thanked the supporters and shared information about the home and the need for new initiatives to further enhance the success of rehabilitating not only the children but their mothers as well.
These events introduced the Shabtai Levi Home to the generous Toronto community and as a result, their donations have enabled the Shabtai Levi Home to increase the ratio of children to care-givers, hire more psychologist, social workers and other therapist and open the Mother/Child Unit.
In the spring of 2007, Channa Sargon took 27 of her students and friends to Israel. These women had the opportunity to visit the Shabtai Levi Home while in Haifa, and see first-hand, this nurturing and educational environment, all supported by professional staff and volunteers. They saw the benefit that additional funds would make towards increasing the existing services.
Most of those women went on to become the 2008 Canadian Friends of the Shabtai Levi Home Committee for the third Toronto event which took place on September 25th, 2008- a Doo Wop Concert, "Music from the Past for the Future of the Children" featured Jay Siegel and the Tokens, Shirley Reeves and the Shirelles and Charlie Thomas. Along with Co-Chairs Ellen Goldstein, Marya Grad, Esther Michaels and Cynthia Small, 48 dedicated volunteers helped to raise funds for this very successful evening.
These funds continue to support the Mother/Child Unit’s need for extra staff and fund the latest initiative - a full Grade One school program for the many 6 and 7 year olds living at the Shabtai Levi Home for an extended period. As a result of this new Grade One program, the children are prevented from falling behind in their education while their family situation stabilizes. Once in their new established home settings they can rejoin schools on par educationally with peers coming from more advantaged backgrounds.
The children and mothers of the Shabtai Levi Home have enjoyed the results of another fundraising event that took place in Toronto in 2009.
Appropriately named a “Pajama Party”, the afternoon lunch and learn brought together 30 women at the beautiful home of Patty Weizenberg. All the guests brought a gift of pajama’s for the children at the Shabtai Levi Home and the women enjoyed tasty delights and Bible studies with Channa Sargon.
Many individuals have generously committed to annual donations which go to support specific needs at the Shabtai Levi Home, for example Chanukah parties and summer outings. Donations such as these enhance the comfort and happiness of the children and mothers in need, while reminding them that there are so many who truly care for their well being.
Additionally, a donation card is designed and sold to those who wish to donate to the Shabtia Levi Home to honour a friend or family member on a special occasion. Joyce and Mel Bornstein have generously been the liaisons and administrators of the donation cards and have honoured their commitment from 2002 until the present.
As well, Miriam Gordon, has graciously agreed to chair our donation card outreach program which gives the opportunity for school age children to do tzedakah and receive community hour credits by promoting the donation cards as gifts for Bar or Bat Mitzvahs, Chanukah, and general occasion cards in support of the Shabtai Levi Home.
On November 1st, 2011, “Forever Motown-Music from the Past for the Future of the Children” - Part 2 will be presented and Co Chaired by Ellen Goldstein, Marya Grad, Esther Michaels and Cynthia Small. Once again the generous Toronto community will be invited to enjoy an exciting evening of original artists singing the songs we all love and remember, in support of the Shabtai Levi Home.
Funds raised at this event will continue to support the Mother/Child Unit, as well as providing additional funds to alleviate the burden on other areas of the budget so that the child/staff ratio continues to be high, the necessary professional staff continues to supply the much needed care and that we continue to make a gift of a lifetime to these children and their mothers who would otherwise be lost forever.
The promise of a brighter future for the Shabtai Levi children and mothers, involves ongoing ‘family’ support, which is the mission of the Forever Chai Foundation of Canada.