The Englewood community will host Gabi Nachmani, the director of “Tenufa Bakehila,” or “Building Hope,” during the upcoming Shabbat, Parshat Toldot, November 9-10. Nachmani will address the community about his highly successful NGO at the East Hill Synagogue on Friday night, at the Benaroya Sephardic Center at Congregation Ahavath Torah on Shabbat morning, and at seudah shlishit at Congregation Ahavath Torah. On Motzei Shabbat he will show videos of his projects at a private home in Englewood.
Israeli-born Nachmani grew up in the German colony section of Jerusalem when it bore no resemblance to the upscale neighborhood that it has become. Sensitive to the living conditions of those living around him, Nachmani, trained in agricultural studies, turned his focus to helping improve the physical living conditions of Israeli families. Twenty-five years ago he joined the NGO Livnot U’lehibanot, a mainly educational program based in Tzfat, heading up its department of Tenufa Bakehila. The focus of his department was the repair of neglected homes in the area. Five years ago Nachmani had a vision of expanding his program. Now based in Jerusalem, the non-profit “Tenufa Bakehila” has refitted neglected homes in 21 cities around the country for over 4,600 families, more than 2,000 in Jerusalem.
The impact of leaking roofs, impaired plumbing, collapsing walls, broken appliances and non-functional kitchens can be devastating to families both physically as well as emotionally. Families experiencing these conditions commonly do not have the resources needed for these major repairs. In approaching the government agencies for help, Nachmani was told that national and local governments are not allowed to enter private homes for improvement purposes. This leaves these families neglecting these physical conditions in favor of providing food and medicine for their family members. Nachmani and his crew survey the needs of the households and correct the impairments. With a professional team of workers, from plumbers to builders to electricians, and with the support of an array of suppliers, Tenufa Bakehila returns the homes to fully functional and restores families’ dignity.
Currently in 11 cities throughout the country, from Chatzor in the North to Kiryat Gat in the South, Tenufa Bakehila provides these life-restoring services. In the city of Chedera, with over 100,000 residents, during the course of the past five years Tenufa Bakehila has restored all of the neediest homes and its services are no longer needed. Ashkelon and Ramle, cities with serious centers of poverty, have recently turned to Tenufa Bakehila for repairs that have not been addressed by the municipalities for 10 years.
Nachmani’s plan is to work on 20 cities, divided into five clusters of four cities each. For each cluster he will provide two to three skilled workmen and a social worker.
Nachmani explained, “The inclusion of a social worker in our projects is crucial. Many families have experienced severe social dysfunction because of their home’s condition. Social workers help the families re-adjust, find work opportunities, deal with child-rearing issues and a host of other social problems resulting from their homes’ disrepair.”
Nachmani tells of the family whose children were removed from their home and taken to foster care because of the poor condition of the living quarters. Eventually they were happily reunited after the repairs were completed by his organization. He shares the story of the IDF soldier who was too embarrassed to have his commander visit his home and how his life changed after he was able to host friends in his home, including his soon-to-be-wife. He recounts the story of the chassidic family in Mea Shearim whose house had no windows. As soon as the repairs were made, the shadchanit, matchmaker, came into their home and arranged a match for their son. And the stories go on and on.
Nachmani is looking forward to sharing his success stories across Israel with the Englewood community. He invites members of the community to join him over Shabbat as well as on Motzei Shabbat at 7:30 p.m. at the home of Michael Blumenthal, 139 Huguenot Avenue, where he will be showing videos of the life-changing work that Tenufa Bakehila has been providing to the less-fortunate citizens of Israel.
By Pearl Markovitz