Sharon Altshul

Time to Remember Lee

I have met some amazing people on Facebook and by blogging.

I have been to a lot of Facebook events, but none compare to last Thursday night at Mike’s Place in Jerusalem.

Jaffa Street at night, rain in Jerusalem image

Jaffa Street was cold, wet and windy, but more than 70 people came to

MIke's Place sign image

what should have been Lee Gabriella Vatkin’s 18th birthday party. In spite of her parents’ efforts and family’s concern, Lee died at the age of 16 by unknowingly consuming a beverage laced with bad methadone. The sad, but powerful newspaper articles from the time of her death and at the end of the year of mourning are hard for any parent or concerned person to read. I remember the story vividly,

Fiona Kantor image

though I did not meet Fiona Kanter, Lee’s mother until recently. It is too late to save Lee, but there are now an estimated 25,000 kids, some as young as 12 years on the streets. Fiona Kanter has decided to establish a project,  “Because I Care” which in Hebrew is ‘Kee Ichpat Lee’, as the appropriate way to memorialize her daughter.

Yehuda Katz, of AMI, Artists & Musicians for Israel, “Neshima Programs” which reaches out to young people with creative music, performed and is working in cooperation with “Because I Care”.

MIke’s Place offered a warm setting. It is located off Zion Square, the well-known area where these kids gather late at night to hang out. Mike’s Place desires to be an attractive alternative to the street.

Pidyon Noar staff image

Kidum Noar, under the Jerusalem Municipality, is working to save the young people on the streets, working with them and youth at risk are some very dedicated and impressive young adults.

Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur said Lee’s death showed those in Safra Square the importance of helping young people find their way back. Fiona Kanter wants to establish a “net to catch those who fall through the cracks” of the system. It is too late to save her daughter Lee z”l,    but there is still time to help others.

Isn’t it time that we all care?




About the Author
Tired of only seeing negatives images of Jerusalem in the media, I started taking pictures of what is really happening, to show the world the real Jerusalem streets..