Peg Elefant
Hadassah National Vice President

Max, Me and Hadassah Neurim Youth Village in Israel

"Max" and the author at Hadassah Neurim Youth Village in Israel. Photo courtesy of Hadassah.
Max Ohayon and the author at Hadassah Neurim Youth Village in Israel. Photo courtesy of Hadassah.
Max Ohayon and the biokitchen at Hadassah Neurim Youth Village in Israel. Photo courtesy of Hadassah.
Hadassah Neurim Youth Village’s biotoilet. Photo courtesy of Hadassah.
Photo courtesy of the author (photo with donkey)
Artwork courtesy of the author (collage)

I had just abruptly left the tour which was part of my personal schedule of activities prior to Hadassah’s recent 100th Convention in Jerusalem this past November. Large groups are not conducive to artists! The ensuing story I could not have imagined. It starts with watercolors, goats, and curious donkeys who snuffled my art pack, then morphs into the most astounding conversation with Maxim Ohayon, biology teacher extraordinaire at Hadassah Neurim, one of Hadassah’s preeminent Youth Aliyah projects. And just what did we discuss? Biotoilets, transfer of learning, mathematics, ecology, and educational philosophy!

First, a bit of background:  Hadassah Neurim Youth Village sits on the edge of the Mediterranean, just a mile south of Beit Yanai Beach, about 15 miles south of Haifa. “Gorgeous” is an understatement. Hadassah Neurim serves a diversity of youth, both ethnically and economically, in their on-site education programs. Their unique specialty programs, including Surf Therapy (ask me later…I surfed in my younger years!), Music Therapy, Canine Therapy, support children, building self-confidence and teamwork, to name just a couple of skills that are essential to academic success.

But I digress. This is a story about Maxim and what he is doing, not only for the students of Hadassah Neurim, but for innovations in the education profession. It’s a long story—you get the condensed version!

Max and the students built the kitchen and rest area you see. The skills: mathematics, engineering, design, writing, teamwork, communication, research, collaboration. And more.

Max and the students built the biotoilet. The gas (pardon the pun) from the biotoilet fuels the kitchen appliances: stove, refrigerator, electrical. The lifelong skills: innovative thinking, curiosity, problem solving, diverse thinking, sense of humor, collaboration, experimentation, utilizing the scientific process, perseverance. And more.

You get the picture. In our minds (Max and I think alike!), there is no such thing as extracurricular programming and academic programming as two separate entities. They are all one and the same with the same goal: programming that supports creative development and furthers the cause for a solid foundation for our youth.

“Who ARE you?” Max asked in astonishment. My reply: “I am an artist. I paint exclusively in support of Hadassah, Max. And YOU are now part of my story.” Max, I can’t wait to see you again!

Thank you, Marcie Natan, Einat Reich, and Shiri Wallerstein for setting up my fabulous day at Hadassah Neurim.

My wish for all of you: may you all visit Hadassah Neurim and meet Max—get the longer story!

Visit my art and read my story: .

You can support Hadassah Youth Aliyah! How to select a painting and support Hadassah Youth Aliyah:

About the Author
Hadassah National Vice President Peg Elefant has demonstrated exemplary leadership over her 40-plus years at Hadassah, including service as a: Creative Consultant, Curriculum Developer and Chair for Building Hadassah Community; National Leadership Vice-Chair; President, Pacific Northwest Region; and National Online Training Chair. Peg has been intricately involved in Hadassah leadership, creating and delivering trainings for region presidents, multi-region conferences and individual regions. Having served on the Constitution and Governance Committee, Peg has a deep understanding of Hadassah’s constitution and bylaws and how they support the operations of the organization. As an artist, Peg paints both in Israel and at home in Oregon. She believes that art is a way of communicating a sense of place and has shared her knowledge and artwork with multiple regions. Originally from Northern California, Peg has lived in Corvallis, Oregon for over 40 years, where she first encountered and developed a passion for Hadassah.
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