November 18, 2011 / Cheshvan 21, 5772
For Elaine Winik, a trip to Israel’s southern city of Dimona on November 8, 2011, marked an historic occasion, fortuitously timed. On the same day, 45 years earlier, the municipality of Dimona formally dedicated Lehman High School, which was made possible by the efforts of Mrs. Winik, the Israel Education Fund and UJA-Federation of New York.
Now 88 years old and living in Palm Beach, Fla., Mrs. Winik – known to local Dimona residents as “Aunt Elaina” for her involvement in the community – was excited to see the changes that had taken place in Dimona since her last visit, nearly 30 years earlier.
Mrs. Winik, accompanied by her daughter, Margot Helphand, first visited the city’s community center, named in honor of Mrs. Winik’s father, Samuel Kappel. Director Noam Cohen and his staff showed Mrs. Winik and Mrs. Helphand the refurbished wings and newly built areas. Dimona Mayor Meir Cohen joined the women for a survey of the city’s developments in education, the architecture of the urban landscape, and culture.
At their second stop, a presentation to the women gathered at the Emtza Haderech (Hebrew: ‘Middle of the Road’) women’s club, Mayor Cohen described Mrs. Winik’s dedication to the city. He also organized a slideshow of Mrs. Winik’s visits to the city over the years. A photo of Mrs. Winik in Dimona 45 years earlier drew applause from the crowd.
The tour continued to Lehman High School, which Mrs. Winik had an instrumental role in bringing to Dimona. Former Dimona Mayor Gabi Sabag, a longtime friend of Mrs. Winik’s and a partner in the construction of the school, met with her there.
Their last stop was a visit to Youth Futures-Dimona – the Jewish Agency for Israel’s community-based initiative that reaches at-risk children and their families in Israel’s underserved communities. During the visit, organized by Shlomit Naim, Coordinator of Youth Futures in Dimona, and Eitan Shaul, head of the Southern Region for the Jewish Agency, two children and mothers spoke about how Youth Futures contributed social and educational well-being of their families.
Mrs. Winik is a leader in American Jewish advocacy for Jewish causes overseas. Her achievements in Jewish philanthropy and activism include serving as National Chair of Women’s Campaign for United Jewish Appeal, and later President of UJA-New York. She continues to be a donor of UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, and is an active member of the Israel Education Fund, of which she was also a founding donor.
For more photos from the Dimona archives, click here.