Press Release
Israeli stars and JNF UK help raise nearly £100,000 for Simcha LaYeled

Two of Israel’s brightest stars celebrated the work of Simcha LaYeled on Sunday night in London. Comedian Shani Cohen and singer Miri Mesika entertained the audience who had come out to support the pioneering Israeli charity. Over £90,000 was raised and pledged on the night, with more donations expected to come in after the event.

Established in 2004, Simcha LaYeled supports physically-disabled children and their families in Israel, providing them with the opportunities and activities that their peers take for granted. The charity is supported by JNF UK, who helped organise the gala event.

Several guest speakers discussed the significance of the organisation.

His Excellency, Mark Regev, Israeli Ambassador to the UK, linked the charity to the recent UN finding that Israelis were some of the happiest people in the world – because they care about each other. Yonatan Galon, CEO of JNF UK, spoke about how Simcha LaYeled was an inspirational example of a group of people who were making Israel a better place to live in.

But as well as hearing about Simcha LaYeled, the audience also learnt more about some of the children who had benefitted directly from the charity.

Children like Talia Rubin and Roni Yona, who were flown over especially for the event. Both girls struggle with debilitating conditions. Talia has Familial Mediterranean Fever, a rare genetic disorder which requires weekly injections at her local hospital. Roni has Morquio syndrome which means that she has had multiple surgeries and is largely confined to a wheelchair.

The sold-out audience learnt about the challenges both girls had bravely faced, as well as the benefits they had gained from working with Simcha LaYeled. Hearing about how the two young girls were determined to live life to the fullest, despite facing difficulties most people can’t imagine, was a very moving experience for everyone in the room. So when Talia and Roni took to the stage and beautifully sang the Israeli folk classic “Lu Yehi” (“Let it be”), there were a lot of cheers – and tears – from everyone in attendance.

This wasn’t the only emotional moment during the night. Compère Shani Cohen switched from English to her native Hebrew to talk about her own personal reasons for being involved with the charity. She recounted how, at a young age, the tragic passing of her sister had left Shani determined to give something back in her memory. One day the fledgling actress attended a cast trip to entertain sick children – but when they arrived, they were struck by how happy all the children already were. This was her first encounter with the impact Simcha LaYeled had, and she has been supporting the charity for over 10 years since then.

The night concluded with a performance by well-known Israeli singer Miri Mesika, winner of several Israeli Female Singer of the Year awards. Accompanied on the piano by her husband Ori Zakh, she ran through a selection of hit singles, Israeli classics and a breath-taking cover of “Somewhere over the rainbow.”