Colel Chabad Hanukkah retreat
Colel Chabad Hanukkah retreat ISRAEL BARDUGO

For two days over Hanukkah in Jerusalem, some 100 families from all over Israel were given the chance to escape from the often-difficult realities of daily life.

Each one of the families enjoying the holiday retreat organized by the Colel Chabad charitable organization had lost their fathers due to tragedy - either sickness, a vehicular accident, or in many cases a terror attack.

The oldest and longest continuously running social services organization in Israel since 1788, Colel Chabad works in a variety of ways to help the families throughout the year. Providing food, clothing, and social services for close to 300 widows and over 600 orphans annually, the program also includes tutors and social workers to help monitor children's education as well as providing career counseling, training, and loans for the parent.

“The participants in our program are people for whom the thought of holidays immediately reminds them of their personal losses,” says Rabbi Amram Blau, Director of the program. “Our objective is to let them know they are not alone and that there are others thinking about them at this time - and to give them a great new holiday memory. ”

The hotel guests were provided with round the clock entertainment – concerts and shows, drumming classes, day trips, art projects, and swimming as well as gifts for the holiday.

Now in its 12th year, the number of participants sadly grows each year, particularly with the addition of new families who have been affected by the tragedies of recent months.

“Holidays which are defined by joy for most of the country and Jews around the world are often a time of pain for these families as they are forced to look on at the father’s unused menora and the empty place at the table,” says Rabbi Mendy Blau, Israel Director of Colel Chabad. “Getting away through the support of Colel Chabad gives them the chance to escape the home and for the children to relax and enjoy the holiday in this special way."