Fania and Yuli, Immigrants from Russia

Fania lost her daughter, a pianist and a music teacher, in December of 2009. She is raising her orphaned grandson, Yuli, on her own. A retired pediatric neurologist, Fania had been in the country for less than one year when her daughter died, and had to struggle with all the difficulties of aliya on top of her grief and the challenge of caring for her young, beloved grandson. Without language or funds, she was truly in need of help. Upon learning of her situation we made immediate contact with Fania and helped her cope with her most immediate practical needs and those of her grandson. We helped Fania with matters that were vitally important to her, helping her arrange a tombstone for her daughter.

Selah’s Russian speaking social worker, Natasha, provided Fania with emotional and practical support including; advocacy with other agencies, contact with the grandson’s school, and finding teachers for the immigrant boy to help him keep up with school work.

In spring 2012, Selah sponsored and organized a bar mitzvah party for Yuli and his new school friends, with all his favorite things. We made a photo album and video to collect and preserve the happy memories the event helped create.

When Fania was ready, we brought them into our support group for grandparents raising their orphaned grandchildren, which made a real difference in their lives. Suddenly she was surrounded by people who could understand what she was feeling, and her grandson found peers to share with, as well. In school, he said “no one can understand what it feels like.” Through Selah’s programming, he found other children who knew the depth of what he had been through, as they had been through similar ordeals themselves.

Yuli is a gifted pianist, and once life stabilized, he enrolled in the Jerusalem Music Conservatory. After years of hard work, at the end of 2016 he was a guest pianist at a performance with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Selah team members were there to watch and beam. Now, just before he begins his last year of high school, Yuli is participating in an International Music Master Class. Selah has been there, as aid and advocate, and continues to maintain close contact with the family, and is responding to developing needs.