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Mandel family visit to WIZO DCC Rishon L’Zion Shikun Mizrach and WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim, Haifa with Annette Crandell.

On Thursday June 20th, 2013 I accompanied Colin, Gillian Mandel and their daughter Louise on 2 site visits.

The family was picked up from the Mammilla Hotel in Jerusalem, and driven to Rishon L’Zion, DCC Shiku Mizrach. I asked Colin how he would like to spend his time at the DCC, and he said that he wanted to tour it, to become familiar with it, and to hear about the children who are enrolled there.

The DCC’s large outdoor playgrounds have been recently renovated through the generosity of WIZO Australia, and the Mandel family was very pleased with the renovations of the playgrounds, the upkeep of the facility and the care of the children.

The latest renovation of the nursery class playground is near completion. The opening in the wall for the new door (which involves breaking the wall) leading directly from the classroom into the playground, can only be constructed once the children are on holiday.

Colin took a particular liking to one of the babies in the playground and it was lovely to see this warm one-on-one connection happening. Louise, who has 2 young boys of her own, aged 5 and 8 years, is a special education teacher. She was interested in the similarities and differences in day care systems between Israel and Australia. DCC director Tamar Ahoizrat and DCC area manager Geula Mizrachi were on hand to answer questions pertaining to the early age system. Tamar thanked the Mandel’s and pointed out that the generosity of WIZO Australia has made a world of difference to the children who attend the DCC daily. In particular, Tamar was proud to point out the centre’s sensory motor equipment which encourages young babies to crawl and to develop their motor skills.

Moti Froman, from WIZO’s Building Division participated in the visit and answered questions pertaining to building regulations and standards. He gave an example of trimming the olive tree in order to prevent olives from falling into the yard which would be dangerous to young children who may put them in their mouths.

A new cook was hired several weeks ago, and the visit ended with refreshments and homemade cookies baked in the DCC.

The next stop was in Haifa at WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim, where Yossi Saragosi, welcomed the Mandel’s warmly. Yossi conveyed the late Tom Mandel’s love of WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim, and how his generosity has changed the face of the boarding school. Carmela Dekel, Chair WIZO’s Education Division joined us at Ahuzat Yeladim, and said that she would be attending this upcoming Thursday’s graduation ceremony. Yossi asked Colin if he would still be in Israel for the graduation, but the family was leaving on Sat. night. Yossi said, he would make special mention of the family’s recent visit at the ceremony.

The visit began with a lovely lunch in the dining room, a room renovated by Rae and Tom Mandel, in honor of Rae’s mother. Louise was very overcome to see her great grandmother’s name on the plaque in the dining room.

As we toured the grounds, many stops were made, and pictures were taken alongside commemorative plaques honoring Tom and Rae Mandel. Colin repeated on several occasions, “I know this place was very special to my father.” Yossi shared many touching anecdotes about Rae and Tom Mandel with the family, throughout the visit.

The visit to the Mandel dormitory was particularly moving, as several of the young teenagers proudly showed us their rooms, which were neat and clean. The beds of course were all made, and donned the lovely WIZO Australia handmade quilts.

A visit to Ahuza H’Ktana touched the family, especially when they saw the young boys, one only 7 years old, sitting in the living room in a group. A few of the boys offered to show us their rooms, and afterwards they gave us a tour of their herb garden. This was a lovely “mifgash”, and the boys were so happy and proud to show us the garden, the steps that they had built, leading up to the garden. They pointed out the different plants and herbs along the way. We left with fresh rosemary and a warm feeling, knowing that the children at WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim are loved and cared for in close partnership with WIZO Australia.

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