Third dishwasher is running, tablecloths are in the laundry machine down the hall, the last of the guests left a few minutes ago and there is a high stack of donation cards which needs to be sorted through. The fourth community dinner at the Heiman residence has come to an end!
Our guests were more plentiful and more diverse than in previous dinners. We had Emily, an adorable five-year old friend, Bar, an Operations professor, two classmates who graduated with me last week from Columbia Business School, Germans, British, Americans and Israelis. In total, 16 lawyers, economists, bankers, academics and toddlers sat close together around our dinner table and has an assortment of Middle Eastern and European dishes, including fresh egglplant and Tahini salad, black rice in mushrooms. grilled asparagus, acorn squash with warm couscous, okra in tomato sauce, salmon in fresh ginger and chutney, cod in Moroccan harissa and a 35 spice-blend and chicken in fresh tarragon and garlic. Red and white wine by Tishbi Winery in Israel help the food go down and fresh fruit and an assortment of blueberry, pecan and apple pie with French Vanilla ice-cream ensured no one went home hungry.
Tal started the evening by talking about Elem and the ‘Awake at Night’ program. After the main course, the guests moved to the living room and saw the (amazing!) 6-minute video that Avital prepared. We spoke about statistics on youth in distress in Israel based on Elem’s annual report and then Tal and I led a conversation on what we could do, if we were the Israeli government, to totally abolish child-prostitution in Israel. A very creative collection of ideas relating to laws, enforcement, public opinion, NGO work and parental supervision filled the discussion. People shared their own knowledge about distress youth matters around the world and several asked how they could join Elem to help reduce the awful statistics presented. One couple, donated $1,000 (!) and offered to host community dinner #5 at their home!
Our guests were eager to support the cause and over $2,200 was raised for ‘Erim Balayla’.
Congratulations Elem-Entry activists for keeping this great project alive!