Diskin Orphan Home
My mother as a child was in a Jewish orphan home in Antwerp, Belgium before going to the United States with her mother after the Second World War having lost her father at the age of two during the Holocaust. She had a soft spot for orphan homes as a result and so I heard of the Diskin Orphan Home in Israel from her.
It was established in 1880 by Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskin, one of the great rabbis of the time. At the peak of his career, Rabbi Diskin left a prestigious rabbinical position and immigrated to the Holy Land. When he arrived he found a large, idealistic community living under near-impossible conditions. Many families had been destroyed by persecution and disease, and Rabbi Diskin encountered countless young orphans and unfortunate youths whose physical, emotional and spiritual well-being were at great risk.
Recognizing the urgency of their plight, Rabbi Diskin began gathering these needy children, one by one, into his humble home. In time, as their numbers grew, he established the "Great Institution for Orphans," which came to be known as the Diskin Orphanage of Jerusalem, or simply Diskin.
Until his final days Rabbi Diskin labored unceasingly to help these unfortunate youths, doing anything that was necessary to provide them with a home and with all their basic needs.
With Rabbi Diskin's passing, in 5658 (1898), his lifework was taken up by his only son, Rabbi Yitzchak Yerucham Diskin. It was Rabbi Yitzchak Yerucham who built the magnificent Diskin Orphanage campus. The campus overlooks the entrance to Jerusalem. Rabbi Yitzchak Yerucham headed Diskin together with his father's beloved student Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld. For fifty years Rabbi Sonnenfeld worked day and night for the sake of the orphans and their families. These great rabbis molded the compassionate character of Diskin that continues to this day.
If in the past the primary purpose of an orphanage was to provide a home for children who had been left without parental care, today it employs pedagogical and therapeutic counseling in order to enable children in dysfunctional homes to maintain as normal an existence as possible given their difficult circumstances.
Accordingly, Diskin has designed the various projects of its humanitarian network with the goals of enabling the child and his family to live together, and providing the family with physical, financial and moral support, while at the same time enabling them to maintain their sense of human dignity.
The Diskin staff does its best to develop a close, trusting relationship with each family, giving both the parents and the children the feeling that they have a friend on whom they can rely, not just a welfare system on which they are dependent.
The board of governors provides Diskin with ongoing and responsible guidance in all its activities. Rabbi Meir Bransdorfer, zt"l, was one of its distinguished members. It consists of community leaders, rabbis and public figures with a great deal of experience in education and kindness.
Edited from http://www.diskin.org.il/narrative.php
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