February 7, 2010 / 23 Shvat 5770
Aaron Iliya, an Austrian Jew, decided to visit the Youth Futures program in Nazareth Illit. Aaron, who is now in his eighties, did the impossible when he fled from Nazi-occupied Latvia during the time of the Holocaust.
Aaron recalls the difficulties he endured in orphanages in Russia, including the pain and humiliation of poverty. He survived under the harshest of conditions, as a lonely child without parents. After the war, Aaron returned to Latvia. Forty years ago he emigrated to Austria, where he became financially successful.
He ultimately became active in the Keren Hayesod Foundation, particularly in the area of helping needy children. On Wednesday, February 3, 2010, Aaron visited the Youth Futures program in Nazareth Illit, where he received a warm greeting from Nazareth Illit's Mayor Shimon Gafaso, the director of the Youth Futures program, Youth Futures trustees and students from the Gilboa School. The meeting took place entirely in Russian; all the trustees were veteran immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, and all the children and several representatives of the municipality spoke with Aaron in Russian as well.
Aaron heard about the successful work of the Youth Futures program with at-risk children in general as well as with children from immigrant families. He listened attentively to the emotional stories of children who were helped by the program. Aaron showed understanding and identification with the participants of the program and the efforts being made to advance the children. After a moving visit to the Gilboa School, Aaron planted a tree in the new promenade of Nazareth Illit which overlooks the scenic Jezreel Valley.