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Navah: Bear Hugs for Young Victims of Terror (Web Content)

About a year ago, Claire Ginsburg Goldstein and her eleven year-old son Sam, the only Jewish boy at his school in Bergenfield, New Jersey, pondered what they could do to help young victims of terror in Israel. Sam thought of sending children slightly used teddy bears. Claire thought new ones would be better. And then along came Ellen Siegel and Martin Volerich. Ellen knew of a place that sold below-cost teddies, and Martin offered create promotional flyers to publicize the project. The Bears from Bergenfield project was born! In the past year, this dynamic team has sent over 4000 teddy bears and approximately 1000 Rosh Hashanah cards to young Israeli victims of terror.

Currently, Claire is collecting bears at the Solomon Schechter Day School of New Milford, New Jersey, where the rest of her children, Shira (10), Seth (7), and Sarah Rose(6) attend school. Over 750 bears were collected over the high holidays.

People continue to come forward to offer their assistance to this worthy project. Ilan from Strand Freight Shipping sent all the teddy bears to Israel for free. Bettina Gould of Jerusalem volunteered to organize the teddy distribution in Israel. Many residents of Teaneck, New Jersey, have volunteered to personally take teddy bears with them to Israel. Several Israelis who Claire met at Surprise Lake Summer Camp offered their support including Hagar Rosenblum and Nir Madjar from
Tzofim, Meny Abraham from Misrad Hama'apach, Debby Gedal-Beer (a nurse at Tel Hashomer hospital), and Tzofim counselors Michal Chapal, Aviv Alper, and Shuki Avizohar. In addition, Rabbi Paul Resnick of Camp Ramah offered to take the Rosh Hashanah cards with him to Israel, and Bob Applebaum of Teaneck generously agreed to ship one hundred teddy bears to Israel in time for the Sukkot holidays. Indeed, collection and delivering teddy bears has turned into a Bergen County-wide project. Says Claire, "It's very exciting to see every kind of Jew contributing. I know what it feels like to feel lost, or have a loss, and I want to help the children cope with their loss if I can."

Despite the unbelievable success of the Bears from Bergenfield Project, Claire is still hoping to collect many more teddy bears and to include more hospitals in the program in the near future. The greatest challenge for Claire's team is to find carriers or an airline that will be willing to offer them reduced rates for their teddy bear cargo.

"I have had great joy in doing this project," smiles Claire, "I've seen the pictures of some of the children who have received our bears. It's "bear"y great!"