To close out 2018, the Ogen Club for at-risk teens opened its arms to the wider community by putting on a special celebration of the new year that combined traditional Russian "Novy God" (Новый Год - "New Year") customs with a twist of Akko hospitality.
On the 30th of December, the modest space of the Ogen Club was packed from wall to wall with children, teens, parents and grandparents who came together to celebrate the traditional holiday in their new home, here in Israel.
The event, arranged by the Ogen Club staff in conjunction with an immigrant-integration program at a local middle school, included exciting performances and some heartfelt words from members of the community about the importance of the holiday and the added significance of celebrating it in their new home.
“It is really nice to see our daughter has a place to be where she can make new friends and fit in but also not be shy about her heritage. The 'Novy God' event was beautiful, not exactly what we are used to from home but it was nice to feel a part of a community and see our daughter thriving”, said Marina, who arrived in Akko eight months ago with her family.
Two students from the program who are also regulars at the Ogen Club shared with the audience in Russian and Hebrew about traditional Novy God customs.
The huge success of the "Novy God" celebration was the culmination of months of hard work that Ogen youth workers have put in with a special program at a local middle school aimed at helping to integrate the children of recent arrivals to Akko from overseas.
Every year the city of Akko welcomes several hundreds of new immigrant families from the Former Soviet Union – from the Ukraine and Russia in particular. The community of Russian-speaking olim constitute a significant element in the city’s diverse social fabric.
Through all of its projects, the Educators’ Kibbutz works to make Akko a city shared by all of its residents, regardless of age, gender or cultural background.
The "Novy God" celebration was another stone in the bridge we are building to bring Akko’s diverse communities together.