The Gladstone Visit to Na'amat Eizenstein Center
Gila Gladstone-Martow summarizes amazing trip to Israel.
Mia (nee Miriam Sivak) Gladstone was an unconventional mother to four children. As a female chartered accountant in the late 1950’s, she focused on economics rather than home economics. The Gladstone kids found home cooking at Bubbe Chienke Sivak’s duplex across from their Chomedey split-level. Munching away at Bubbe Chienke’s, the Gladstone kids listened to her conduct hours of Pioneer Women business with Chavera Zilberzack and Chavera Small to name a few (Pioneer Women is now Na’amat, Chavera, Hebrew for friend, and was their way of addressing each other).
In the fall of 2007, Mia accepted her diagnosis of terminal cancer with stoic grace. While most of us would express anger, she joked and quipped with visiting friends and relatives. She would say things such as “I knew I was going to die someday – just not this soon” and “this is the list of women who will chase after my Alex, most of them are okay but steer him away from the last two.” With her practical mind she was able to negotiate with Na’amat representatives for the renovation of a children’s playground in Israel in honour of her mother Chienke’s passionate work for the organization.
The arrangement of a Passover 2010 trip to Israel required months of planning by daughters Judy, Gila and Sara. Arriving in Israel a few days before the holiday, the three sisters were busy attending to a B’not Mitzvah service and luncheon in Jerusalem for cousins Jennie (Chenia in Hebrew) Martow and Ayelet Chen Lustgarten – both named for Chienke. Following a catered Passover seder, nineteen family members set out for a ten day private bus tour of Masada, Ein Gedi, Tel Aviv, the Galilee, the Golan and Haifa.
During dinner in Tel Aviv, the three sisters realized that they did not have an exact address for the Na’amat Children’s Center, where they had arranged a visit for the day it reopened after the holiday. It was a lucky coincidence thatour waiter was a native of Kiryat Haim, a suburb of Haifa. When asked if he had heard of the Na’amat Daycare Center, he replied: “Everyone in Kiryat Haim knows Beit Na’amat. It’s on Aharonovitz Street off of Tzomet Hatzrif.”
With the help of our amazing guide Roni and driver Dror, we found the Eizenstein Na’amat Center at the end of a small court. The Center is a small building with four large rooms for different aged kids, a therapy room which doubles as a bomb shelter, and a small office. Immediately visible upon entering is a plaque reading “The Sivak Family – Chienke, Motel, Mia, Jake – Montreal Na’amat Canada 2008” as well as Hebrew lettering reading “Chazak Ve’ematz”, which translates to “Strength and Truth.” This Hebrew greeting is associated with Hashomer Hatzair Israeli Zionist Youth Organization, which introduced Chienke to her future husband Motel. Mia’s children and grandchildren belong to the organization and attend Camp Shomria in Perth, Ontario.
The family members were greeted at the busy Center by friendly staff, Chairman Rivka Barlev and lots of beautiful children. They played indoors with two groups of children and watched them play on their new outdoor equipment. During the tour of the Center, staff explained that while half the children are paying daycare customers, the rest are from families at-risk. The Center is open from 7am to 7pm six days a week. Three meals a day are served to children who are in less than ideal family circumstances. The parents of the at-risk kids participate in therapy and parental training in the hopes that their children will not be removed from their homes.
Center staff prepared a delicious meal for the family: home-made salads, dips and pizza, as well as a favorite Israeli dessert, lemon cheesecake. While accepting a thank-you book prepared by the children, we promised our hosts to encourage others to add a Na’amat Center to their Israel trip itineraries.
The Na’amat visit was the last stop of the Gladstone epic tour. Nineteen family members from ages 10 to 86 travelled together in memory of Mia, whose gift to Na’amat exemplified her generous personality. The visit to the Na’amat Center was a definite highlight to an amazing trip.