The following was written by Pascal Levensohn, founder of Levensohn Venture Partners. Pascal received a BA in Government from Harvard University. A former Vice President of Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco, where he served as a director for six years, he currently serves as a member of the Steering Committee of the Socrates Society, a leadership development program of the Aspen Institute with which he has been involved since 1997. He is a former director of the American Friends of Hand in Hand: Center for Bilingual Arab-Jewish Education in Israel, and the Program chair for the Business Leadership Council of the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation.
All this to say that while we do not know him, we so appreciate his heart for Amoun Sleem, someone we support in the Old City. I thought it good to bring my readers up to date on a genuine need in the kingdom. We met Amoun in the Old City in 2001 and were so impressed with her heart to help her people, the forgotten Gypsy society of Jerusalem. She is here with me today in the office, and we are hoping to let people know that while society may have forgotten the Gypsies, the Lord has not. If you feel led to help her help these people, contact me here. Just another way to bless Israel!
The Domari Gypsy Society Community Center in Jerusalem is in Danger of Closing– How You Can Help
by Paschal Levensohn
I’ve written about the Domari, the gypsies of East Jerusalem, on numerous occasions in this blog. The Dom are gypsies of North Indian origin who have lived in East Jerusalem for approximately 800 years. They currently number about 3,000 people, and a courageous woman, Amoun Sleem, leads a group of the Dom who want to break the shackles of illiteracy and subsistence living through efforts at building a community, keeping alive their ancestral shared language, and teaching adults and children computer literacy and basic self-help business skills.
I’ve visited Amoun on numerous occasions over the past five years and met her extended family. I celebrated my most recent birthday in Jerusalem with Amoun and Anat Hoffman of the Israel Religious Action Center. Anat and her colleagues at the IRAC have actively helped the Dom for years and originally introduced me to Amoun.
Amoun and her clan have impressed me as honest, resilient people who would like to be self reliant but have fallen through the cracks of the Israeli social system. Rejected and ignored by Israelis and Palestinians alike, most of the Dom are beggars.
I’ve attached their most recent newsletter Download domari_newlsetter_4_07.pdf which describes their current situation and how you can help. The newsletter notes that a $10,000 matching challenge grant to help the Domari is waiting for anyone to make a tax deductible gift to help them….
The Domari are at the absolute bottom of the socio-economic ladder in Israel and they could use a helping hand. Please join me in helping them to stand on their own.
To find out more about how to make a tax deductible gift, you can contact email@example.com or Rachel Canar at the Israel Religious Action Center at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Thank you for helping bring Amoun Sleem and the Domari to the attention of others. I first met Amoun several years ago through my friend Anat Hoffman, who leads the israel Religious Action Center (www.irac.com) in Jerusalem. The Domari are at the bottom of the social ladder in Israel. Ignored and marginalized by Israelis and Palestinians alike, they have fallen through the social safety net. We need to do something to help them. I’ve spent time with Amoun on numerous occasions, met her sister and brother and cousins. Last year I bought bookbags for the Domari children to be able to arrive at the firdst day of school with dignity. I’ve shaken the hands and embraced the “untouchables” of Jerusalem, you can too. We all must strive to do more for them.