Supporting “Awake at Night”
By Mitchell Slepian
Last night, 22 people arrived at the stunning Tenafly, N.J. home of ELEM activists, the Mizrahis. All were there to learn about ELEM’s Awake at Night (Erim Balayla) program, which provides assistance to Israeli children and teenagers who are working as prostitutes, which is an ever-growing problem in Israel.
Around 8:00 p.m., the house, which should be featured in a photo spread in Better Homes & Gardens, filled up with lots of interesting young people eager to become more knowledgeable about ELEM’s charitable work. This was one of 7 locations across the NY metro area hosting a “Community Dinner”. It was my second and the organization’s fourth. It marked my one-plus year anniversary as an ELEM activist, which has been an enlightening experience. I only hope to do more.
Guests were welcomed by the amazing musicianship of Harvey Valdes who teased our ears with his oud all evening. Upon arriving, all were treated to a great selection of Barkan wines and great chatter about Awake at Night.
The night moved on and a sumptuous buffet style Moroccan feast was served. There was more food than you could imagine. Valdes’ music kept us smiling. As an activist, I got to walk the room and make small talk about ELEM’s incredible work. Yeah, chitchat ran from Broadway, art and music. But it always circled back to the Israeli kids in need and how we can help them.
Liat and Ifat took the “stage” and made dazzling speeches about the important work Awake at Night Does. For example, in 2010, the Tel Aviv operation treated 81 youth (from which 34 were new to Awake at Night), while Haifa operations treated 45 youth. The team is working on harm reduction mainly to minimizing threats to their health and livelihood of the youth (i.e.: providing condoms, physical check-ups and AIDS blood tests).
After their speech a DVD, which Avital worked so hard to create rolled. Our attendees got a bird’s eye view of how drastic the situation is and how much these children rely onto ELEM’s Awake at Night program for a better chance.
The night wound down. Everyone had a great time. Our honorable guests all opened their hearts. All made donations to support Awake at Night’s work. Many were so inspired they asked to be kept informed about our work. Hopefully we cultivated a few new activists.
Special thanks goes to Ronen and Violette for opening their generosity in opening their home to ELEM. Ronen’s speech was heartfelt. I’m anxiously wait to hear how my fellow activists Community Dinners turned out.