Avshalom and Pam Beni, Founders (told in first person, by Avshalom)
As the founders of HAMA, Pam (far right) and I (2nd from left) have endeavored to bring the best of our American and Israeli narratives together. We will always cherish our closest childhood friendships which have endured to this day for over half a century and our wedding day in the Reed College Chapel by Rabbi Yonah Geller, who had so touched our lives. These are but two of the many shining memories of America we had left behind.
The life journey of nearly 40 years which followed was in large part our Israeli story as parents, kibbutzniks, educators and now grandparents from afar.Despite the fact that Pam and I have lived more than half our lives in Israel, songs like Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and Simon and Garfunkle’s “Sounds of Silence”, and Joan Baez’s “For Sasha” still ring true in my soul and make me yearn. And while these songs will stay with me forever, I have come to realize that they are my songs and that the next of HAMA’s leaders and visionaries will have songs of their own. Pam’s songs have changed over time. They have become the songs of prayer and love of Torah, the Psalms, the writings of Rambam, Chofetz Haim and Carlebach among many significant others. These are the songs which now “rock her soul”.
And while I cannot go there with her as far as she would want me to, I have come to realize that her spiritual world has enriched my own in many ways and that her faith has provided me with a much greater and deeper sense of compassion and yes, if I must confess, a deeper awareness of my own imperfections and the need for “Tikkun”. Pam has established one of HAMA’s most successful and significant projects, The HAMA English Tutorial Center which helps children referred to us through their schools to overcome challenges inherent in AD(H)D, dyslexia, and other related learning disorders. HAMA’s English Center has indeed become a “Gateway to English through Animals”. Apart from her full time job, she also taken on the unenviable task of our bookkeeping on a voluntary basis.