Susan’s House

A Birthright group visited Susan’s House last week. They came to Susan’s House to hear about who we are and what we do, but they left with a new understanding of tikun olam and where dreams can lead.  They sat in the showroom surrounded by unique pieces of jewelry, sparkly framed birkot habayits, brightly painted ceramics, beautiful glassware and fun colorful animal beadwork keychains, while they listened to the stories of some of the teens who have been through Susan’s House.  Hearing the stories about where the teens working at Susan’s House came from, and where some of the past participants are today really struck a chord with our visitors.

Too often we are afraid to dream, and push our ideas to the back closets of our minds. Susan Kaplansky dreamed of helping Jerusalem’s street teens through art. She believed art holds the power to encourage and build confidence in those who feel lost. While cancer took Susan away before she had the chance to see her dream materialize, her husband made it his mission to transform her dream into a reality.

After hearing about Susan and some of the background stories of the participants the visitors got to go behind the scenes into the workroom.  This is where the magic seems to happen; a fire flares up as the glass is melted into beads; clay is being rolled out to be formed into ceramic pieces; glass is being cut and printed on; and jewelry is being designed bead by bead.  The real magic however is the transformation of the Susan’s House teens.  These former Jerusalem street kids are working their way towards a better future for themselves.  They have found a safe haven at Susan’s House.  It is a warm place that gives them the life skills, confidence and encouragement needed to leave the streets and head towards a productive place in society.  The teens are guided by director Avital Goel, a staff comprised of Betzalel Art graduates, and an in-house social worker.

The past these teens bring with them will always be with them, but their future is now brighter because of the love, care and direction they are given.  Susan’s House is a dream come true.  Don’t silence your dreams, you have the potential to change the world.  Over 500 teens have been through Susan’s House.  When these teens arrived at Susan’s House they couldn’t imagine a successful future, but now they are moving forward, joining the army and then many moving on to higher education.  Past participants of Susan’s House now find themselves in the workforce as electricians, lawyers, artists, and more.  It is really a dream come true.

About the Author
Sarra Horwitz made aliya in 2003. She currently resides in Jerusalem with her husband and 3 kids. She works for Susan's House, a non-profit organization aimed at helping Jerusalem's street kids build a better life for themselves in Jerusalem.