November 25, 2008, Updated September 14, 2012

Giving Israel’s children a gift of laughter and joy.

Their stories touch our hearts; they make us cry. For some of the terminally ill young kids who are granted a once-in-a-lifetime wish from the Make a Wish Foundation, it might be the most exciting thing to remember in their short life. For others, the wish gives them the courage and strength to carry on.

Based on the phenomenally successful Make a Wish Foundation in America, Israel has its very own chapter, Mishelet Lev. Like its American counterpart, it works to give families with sick kids a gift to help them experience laughter, joy and excitement in the otherwise difficult time coping with severe illness.

Funded mainly by Israeli citizens, but also foreign Jews, Mishelet Lev grants about 130 wishes a year to all kinds of Israeli kids. According to Ilil Ginzburg, the foundation’s executive manager, Jewish, Arabic and Christian kids in Israel pretty much ask for the same thing as kids would in America, or anywhere at one of the foundation’s 30 chapters: “A kid is a kid is a kid,” she says, quoting the Hebrew saying. “Everyone has the same dreams.”

Seeing Jessica Alba, Disneyland, or firefighters

Granting wishes to kids ages 3-18, families are suggested to contact the organization while their kids are in the hospital undergoing treatment. Many are young victims of cancer, but wishes are granted to kids suffering from any serious disease.

Not long ago, a Christian Arab child got to visit the Pope, and another one met the Hollywood actress Jennifer Alba: “In general we try grant about 130 wishes each year. Most of the people come through the hospital, from the doctor, or the social worker, but sometimes the kids call us directly,” says Ginzburg.

The wishes are broken down into four categories: a wish to meet, a wish to have, a wish to go and a wish to be: “Of course the Israeli kids, like kids anywhere, want to go to Disneyland,” says Ginzburg. The WWE wrestling entertainment organization in America is popular too.

They ask to meet firemen in New York who helped during 9.11, while some ask for things “to have,” such as new computers, a new room, a piano, a dog and even a horse. Most Israelis don’t have backyards, so in the case of the horse, lodging – thankfully — is arranged at a location nearby the child’s house.

Founded in 1996 and based in Ra’anana, Mishelet Lev is supported by private donations, corporate contributions, adoptions of wishes, and various fundraisers throughout the year. And of course, donations from America, to make sick kids’ wishes come true in Israel’s difficult reality, are most definitely welcome.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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