Frequently Asked Questions

The Merav Children's Group Home

  • When was Bet Hayeled established?

    In the early 1990s, the members of Kibbutz Merav began to consider several options for long-term educational and social (Tikun Olam) programs. By 1994, the decision was finalized to open a family group home for children from distressed backgrounds. In September of 1994, Bet Hayeled opened its doors.

  • Where are the children from?

    The children of Bet Hayeled (also known in English as the Merav Children's Group Home) come from all over Israel. Social service agencies faced with orphaned children or children from dysfunctional or non-supportive families have turned to Bet Hayeled, via the Israeli welfare and family court systems, and place children with us.

  • Where is Kibbutz Merav, and what is its relationship to Bet Hayeled?

    Kibbutz Merav is a modern-orthodox community in the north of Israel, located on the Gilboa mountain range, about 25 miles south of the Sea of Galilee. Ninety families currently live on Merav, which was founded in the summer of 1982. The children of Bet Hayeled are a major priority of the kibbutz. The community provides some funding and has allocated both housing and manpower for the care of these youngsters.

  • Where do the children live?

    The young children of Bet Hayeled live in a two-story home on the kibbutz, with rooms that house one or two children each, in separate boys’ and girls’ wings, a dining area, kitchen, areas for recreation and study, and rooms for the live-in National Service volunteers.

  • How old are the children?

    The children currently in Bet Hayeled are between the ages of 7–18. The majority of the kids have been with us for many years and are proud to have grown up in Merav. The home itself houses up to 10 children, from grades 1-12.

  • What happens to the children when they finish high school?

    While all such government-sponsored programs end when the children graduate high school, our lifetime commitment to these young adults continues on. We have pledged to be their “family” and see them through the next stages of life, both emotionally and financially. This includes such challenges as army or national service, university education or vocational training, and even marriage and starting a family of their own.

  • Are the Bet Hayeled children religiously observant?

    The children come from backgrounds that are at least familiar with the basic framework of traditional Jewish life. In the framework of Bet Hayeled, the children all adhere to a religious lifestyle, and learn to respect the observant way of life.

  • Where do the children go to school?

    The children (along with Kibbutz Merav kids) attend the nearby "Shaked" religious day school for grades 1–6. Once the children reach junior high, the boys attend the yeshiva high school in Beit Shean, while the girls attend a girls-only junior/high school in Tiberias.

  • What types of extra-curricular activities do the Bet Hayeled children participate in?

    Here, too, the Bet Hayeled children integrate with the rest of the Merav youth population. Sports activities, art and music classes, and participation in youth movements, both on and off Merav, are the types of activities the children take part in. The Bet Hayeled children also are provided with Bar and Bat Mitzvah preparation, as well as an individual celebration sponsored by Bet Hayeled.

  • Do they need tutors?

    Tutors are available for the Bet Hayeled children both during their school hours and on the kibbutz. Over the years, numerous kibbutz residents have served as tutors for the children in such subjects as English, math, and Judaic studies, and when necessary, the children have also been provided external assistance with their schoolwork.

  • Do they visit their parents?

    Most of the children visit their parents on occasion, but this is obviously a very sensitive issue, and must be monitored carefully, as well as legally. Some children’s family members visit them on Merav, while others never see their families at all. Whenever it is possible and safe, we encourage a home visit once every three weeks between the children and their families.

  • What is the relationship between the children and the families and other children on Merav?

    All of the Bet Hayeled children have “adoptive” families from the Merav community, where they can spend free time. The integration with the children of Merav is all-encompassing—they go to school together, play together, and attend activities together. The open, accepting atmosphere of Merav and its children has been a major reason for the success of the Bet Hayeled program.

  • Who oversees and gives accreditation to the Bet Hayeled program?

    Bet Singer – Kfar Yechezkel Children's Home is the main agency connected to and overseeing Bet Hayeled. This foundation is associated with the Ministry of Welfare. Bet Hayeled itself is also licensed by the Ministry of Welfare.

  • What’s unique about Bet Hayeled program vis-?-vis other similar programs?

    The Bet Hayeled program is unique in both its size and its environment. Our program is designed for a relatively small group of children within a larger healthy community. It is our firm belief that this unique model, which we refer to as “community adoption,” is what allows the children to achieve such dramatic improvement, as we have seen with the Bet Hayeled children and graduates.

  • Does Bet Hayeled receive any financial assistance from the government?

    The government provides a minimum stipend for the very basic needs of each child through high school. The stipend received only partially covers the ever-growing physical and emotional needs of the children.

  • What are the current private funding needs?

    As the Bet Hayeled children get older, the funding needs become more demanding. Donations we receive cover such costs as clothing, psychological counseling, tutoring, extra- curricular activities and summer programming. In addition, funds are raised for our graduates to cover such costs as college education & even weddings!

  • What type of staff does the program have?

    From day one, the joint program directors Irit Zucker and Yitz Feigenbaum have worked with the children of the group home, serving as surrogate parents. There are always two post-high school National Service volunteers (young women) who work exclusively with the group and live at the Bet Hayeled home, often staying for a full two-year term of service. Of course, our social worker and psychologist(s) are essential in meeting the emotional needs of the children as well.

  • Do the children have any responsibilities in the Bet Hayeled household or on the kibbutz in general?

    The children split up and participate in the tasks and chores of the house, as children of any family home do. In the kibbutz community, they take on responsibility, just as the other children of the kibbutz their age do. For example, during vacation times some work in the Merav mini-market, others work with children in the kibbutz early childhood educational program.

  • Who is Aliza Malka?

    Aliza was one of the original Bet Hayeled children, who, together with her older sister, came to Merav in September of 1994. In a terror attack in August 2001, she was murdered by Palestinian terrorists, when she and some of her friends from Bet Hayeled were returning to Merav from nearby Beit Shean where they had gone to eat pizza. She was only 16.

Bet Hayeled
Making a difference that lasts a lifetime


©Arnie Draiman Productions, 2012