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      Bnei Akiva: From the Amazon to Itamar

      Youth in Brazil reach out to their counterparts in Itamar through Bnei Akiva.
      By Maayana Miskin
      First Publish: 4/15/2011, 12:59 PM / Last Update: 4/15/2011, 2:54 PM

      Israel news photo

      Five weeks ago, terrorists entered the community of Itamar on the Sabbath, infiltrated a home, and murdered five members of the Fogel family: parents Udi and Ruth, 11-year-old Yoav, four-year-old Elad, and three-month-old Hadas. Three children were saved. The terrorists overlooked eight-year-old Ro'ie and two-year-old Shai, and 12-year-old Tamar was out of the house, at a meeting of the local branch of the Bnei Akiva youth group.

      Following the attack, Bnei Akiva leaders in Itamar decided on two projects. First and foremost, to provide support to Tamar by bringing as many Bnei Akiva members as possible to the funeral. And secondly, to help the Bnei Akiva youth, themselves traumatized by the vicious murders, by making sure that each and every one of them got the chance to take part in the movement's annual trip on Passover.

      The second project was a major one. The Itamar branch of Bnei Akiva has 90 members, and money is tight in many homes, particularly with the costs of the Passover holiday.

      Help came from a surprising source. Bnei Akiva members in Belem, a Brazilian city on the banks of the Amazon, heard about the attack in Itamar from their youth leader, Israeli Matan Regev. The children were touched by the plight of their counterparts in Samaria, and decided to do what they could to help.

      The Belem branch voted unanimously to adopt the branch in Itamar. They sent letters and gifts, along with a photo of the entire branch holding a sign saying, “We are all Itamar.”

      Last Friday, the young members of Bnei Akiva Belem sent several thousand shekels to the Itamar branch, providing the money that had been needed for the Passover trip. Tzipi Shmueli of Itamar wrote back with a letter of thanks, and informed the youth of Belem that thanks to their efforts, every Bnei Akiva member in Itamar will be able to attend the annual trip.

      The Itamar youth will leave this week for a two-day trip to northern Israel, along with thousands of Bnei Akiva members from the rest of the country.