"About seven years ago we started thinking of an idea to establish a business that would be a source of income for our 15 to 18 year old students" said Ayelet Pavel, the project's director.
"We put together a group from the center and trained them. Since we are a religious establishment, we started making Judaic objects like mezuzahs, candlesticks, hamsot and menorahs made of glass, ceramics and wood."
Out of the center's 180 children, many of whom are children at risk, dozens passed the screening process.
After the team was out together, the center constructed a workshop with an oven for the creations – here the kids "bake" their menorahs. The youngsters decorate the menorahs according to their personal tastes so that no two menorahs are the same.
Each menorah costs NIS 50 (about $13.5); all profit goes right into the students' pockets. The industrious among them manage to make NIS 700 (around $200) a month. In addition to having the satisfaction of being able to help their families financially, their self image improves by leaps and bounds.
"I started working here this year and I'm really enjoying myself. I also dance and sing with the center's band. Every year we travel to the US where we get to sell our menorahs in the Jewish communities. They are always astonished by the menorahs' beauty and amazed that teens are the creators", said 15-year-old Noa.
"I have been making the menorahs for two years and enjoying every minute", said 17 year old Etai. "I make NIS 500 ($140) a month, and that's my allowance".
Dikla Vaaknin, a social worker who has accompanied the project explained on Wednesday, "This is a very important initiative. It sends a message of responsibility. The students know that anyone who doesn't do well at school during the day won't be allowed to take part in the project."
Eden, 17, is considered the project manager. He is proud of selling the menorahs to 'Orange', the Israeli cellular company, the First International Bank and dozens of major corporations.
And for those who think that they are resting on their laurels, he says that the Center's director is in South Africa at the moment, and he has been told – don't come back without more orders.
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