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Where to Go in Tel Aviv?

5 December 2011 One Comment
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Do you want to dance, listen to music, eat, drink? Maybe you just want to go somewhere where you can sit and talk with your friends, somewhere where it’s easy to be. I love Tel Aviv; there are always hundreds of things to do and places to go. It’s the place I call home and it seems like there is a place for everyone in this urban mix, but Tel Aviv teens are about to lose the one place that is their own: the Hafuch Al Hafuch Youth Center.

Teens and volunteers are organizing to protest and hopefully keep the center going. A protest is planned for December 15, 2011 at Rabin Square from 16:00 to 20:00, click here for the link, and a petition is circulating online – click here to join.

Hafuch Al Hafuch is a program operated by Elem, a nonprofit organization that reaches out to youth in distress. Elem has programs that offer aid and counseling for runaways, homeless, drug-addicted youth or those who are involved in prostitution, yet Hafuch Al Hafuch is unique among these programs: open to all young people aged 13 – 18; it is the only program that has preventive power.

Hafuch means upside down, if you order it in an Israeli restaurant you’ll get café au lait. At Hafuch Al Hafuch teenagers can come in for a cup of coffee, conversation or counseling. It means that young people have a place where they can go in the afternoons, a place that is open, tolerant, safe, and non-judgmental. It’s a place where teens who need help can find the help they need. It’s a place where kids who would never sit next to one another in the cafeteria at school might find themselves talking to one another, maybe even becoming friends. Jocks, Goths, rich kids, poor kids, Geeks, Freaks, Stoners, teens from all ethnic backgrounds, genders, religious beliefs or sexual preference – everyone is welcome.

An urban center like Tel Aviv is a magnet for youth, and for those who would prey on them. The pace and pressure of the city take everything to an extreme – city kids not only need as much help as anyone, they need more. Yet Tel Aviv’s only Hafuch Al Hafuch Center is about to shut down at the end of this month due to a lack of funds.

How did this situation come about?

Elem relies solely on donations and as everyone knows, the financial situation worldwide has brought about a significant decrease in donations. As a result, the organization has had to make severe reductions to their budget and have decided to shut down the Tel Aviv Hafuch Al Hafuch Center.

This cannot be allowed to happen; Tel Aviv needs a place for teens. Anyone who visits the center would find a warm and welcoming place where teens can hang out without pressure or prejudice. I wish there had been a place like that when I was a teenager. Hafuch Al Hafuch must remain open and active.

Hafuch Al Hafuch needs 300,000 NIS a year in order to operate. Who should foot the bill? Should the Tel Aviv Municipality take responsibility and pitch in? I don’t have the answers to these questions and the long-term future of the Tel Aviv Hafuch Al Hafuch Center demands some serious thinking to develop a financial plan. Yet if immediate action is not taken, the center will shut down in a few weeks, and the teenagers for whom Hafuch has been a hang-out and a safe harbor will have nowhere to go but the streets; and no one to turn to.

These teenagers are making their voice heard and have launched a campaign to save Hafuch Al Hafuch with an online petition and a facebook page where people can read about the situation, express their views and get updates on the latest developments. A protest is currently planned for December 15, 2011 from 16:00 in front of the Tel Aviv Municipality.

The situation is dire. Elem has decided to shut down the center, and Hafuch Al Hafuch is scheduled to close on December 30, 2011. Yet if they manage to raise 300,000 NIS by the end of the month, they will be able to operate the center for one more year, giving them time to plan for the future.

Sometimes it only takes one person to turn things around. Maybe that person is you.

If you would like to help Hafuch Al Hafuch, you can join the Hafuch Protest Headquarters (all run by teens and volunteers) facebook page here, sign the petition here. Attend the protest in front of the Tel Aviv Municipality in Rabin Square on December 15, 2011 at 16:00. Share this article, tell your friends.

Volunteers are currently organizing and it is possible that a dedicated account will be set up for donations to Hafuch Tel Aviv. Updates will be available on the Hafuch Headquarters facebook page and Midnight East. If a generous donor or organization responds to their call that will be wonderful, but don’t forget: small donations from individuals (that’s you and me), whether 10 NIS or $20.00, will add up, and we can make a difference.

If you would like help Hafuch Tel Aviv, you may also write to hafuch.ta@elem.org.il for additional information.  Additional information on Elem can be found on their website, should you choose to donate through Elem, please make certain to note that the donation is solely for Hafuch Tel Aviv. The petition site address: https://www.atzuma.co.il/hafchtelaviv

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