Lisa M. Pollack
Executive Director | Development | Photographer | Advocate

Comfort and Strength at Neve Hanna Children’s Home During Wartime

Bomb shelter at Neve Hanna Children's Home. Photo: Lisa Pollack
Bomb shelter at Neve Hanna Children's Home. Photo: Lisa Pollack

We provide comfort and strength in this dire moment in the history of the State of Israel and Am Yisrael. American Friends of Neve Hanna stands with Israel and the IDF as they protect their citizens. We keep the children and staff of Neve Hanna Children’s Home and all of Israel in our hearts, thoughts and prayers. We pray that we will be delivered from this time of war, and enter a time of peace.

We have been keeping in close contact with Neve Hanna Children’s Home and have updates to share with you.

Neve Hanna Children’s Home. Photo: Lisa Pollack

Status Following October 7, 2023

Neve Hanna Children’s Home was still on vacation when the horrific acts of terrorism unfolded on Shabbat morning, October 7, 2023 in the border region of the Gaza Strip, from which our city is just 15 miles away. About 40 of our 80 children residing at Neve Hanna were brought from their homes a few days later, more came in the following two weeks afterwards. Our 40 daycare children could not come in at first due to the frequent rocket attacks.

All our children, whether they were still with their parents or had returned to Neve Hanna, experienced traumatic days. It is a situation that causes great mental stress. The uncertainty of what will happen next adds to that stress. Some employees also did not return to work because they live in regions with frequent rocket attacks; some are among the evacuees. Our volunteers from abroad returned home. Of our 12 Israeli volunteers serving a social year before the army duty most returned to Neve Hanna.

Neve Hanna massively increased the therapeutic measures. The petting zoo has never been so lively! Play and art therapy were increased, too. We immediately also offered a lot more yoga and “guided imagery”. Our sports teacher was also very busy.

Neve Hanna in Mourning

The leadership of Neve Hanna learned a few days after the Hamas terrorist attack on Israeli civilians, that a former child of Neve Hanna Children´s Home is among the victims. Shimi grew up in Neve Hanna from 2nd grade on. He was 29 years old, when he was murdered together with other young innocent people enjoying the Supernova trance music festival (also known as Tribes of Nova), a festival of peace and love in the South of Israel during the Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret. Some of our current and former staff members lost family members and friends. The loved ones they mourn are among the murdered civilians and among the on duty killed soldiers and police officers. Our Muslim-Bedouin partners, we cooperate with for over 40 years, are also confronted with wounded and murdered family members.

Current Status

Over the following weeks, all children residing at Neve Hanna returned. With so many children back in Neve Hanna, all residential groups are now in action again. The daycare children come in according to day-to-day assessments of the Home Front Command. We no longer have an “emergency routine” but are now developing a fixed roadmap for “dealing with a longer-lasting crisis situation.” All children are back to schooling, some in their schools, and other via Zoom. We maintain our daily routine between studying, therapeutic meetings, and leisure time activities, still adjusted to the safety regulations of the Home Front Command.

The changed reality is present everywhere

  • Our three former children in military service are very busy and need a lot of support. This is particularly the case for a girl who was at Kibbutz Nahal Oz on October 7th, where many Hamas terrorists carried out a terrible massacre. This kibbutz community is missing around a quarter of the 471 members who were either murdered or kidnapped. 
  • Several of our former children have been called up for reserve duty, including two who now work in Neve Hanna. We also keep in touch with them.
  • In addition, we lack the presence of a social worker of our team who is, with her family, among the evacuees and no longer has a home to which the family can return to. Of course, Neve Hanna helps with a solution.
  • Many others from our team are affected by the shaken-up security situation. We have quite a few employees who live in villages and kibbutzim in the region. They all volunteered for armed night patrols; an additional burden alongside full-time employment.
Bomb shelter at Neve Hanna Children’s Home. Photo: Lisa Pollack

Urgent needs

Neve Hanna is located in the Southern Israeli city of Kiryat Gat, approximately 25 km (15.5 miles) distance from the Gaza Strip. When there is a rocket alarm given for Kiryat Gat, a shelter must be reached in less than 45 seconds. Even though in 2011, Neve Hanna was able to add some shelters on its premises, from many areas of our compound it is impossible to reach these life-saving structures in time. To keep all our children, the staff members as well as the volunteers from Israel and abroad safe, we urgently must add sheltered space in different spots. Furthermore, the current situation presents us with the immediate need to replace and secure our fence, which is by no means an obstacle for intrusions.

Our compound is for all of us like an average size living room. Currently, our children cannot play in many areas. The staff and volunteers working in facilities that are spread throughout the camps cannot reach the shelters in time.

Please help us to improve this situation for the physical and mental well-being of all members of the Neve Hanna community. Consider making a gift to the Neve Hanna Children’s Home and earmark your contribution for the Neve Hanna Emergency Needs Shelter Fund.

Please visit us at to learn more about our children and get the current news on the crisis at Neve Hanna Children’s Home.

About the Author
Lisa Pollack is Executive Director of American Friends of Neve Hanna, a non-profit children's organization associated with the Neve Hanna Children's Home in Kiryat Gat, Israel. Neve Hanna provides a warm and loving home for at-risk youth from disadvantaged families. With its individualized therapeutic programs and projects, Neve Hanna Children’s Home strives to meet all the physical, emotional, mental and educational needs of its children. Lisa is the former newsletter Copy Editor and Publicity Consultant for Congregation L'Dor V'Dor, Little Neck, New York. Lisa has community ties within the Jewish Community including Masorti, Aepi, StandWithUs, MERCAZ-USA, Women's League for Conservative Judaism, and the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs. She is also a Public Speaker, Israel Advocate, Activist, Photographer and Writer.