Netanya’s Laniado Hospital has opened a brand new playroom, courtesy of Toys for Simcha, based in Brooklyn and operating in the United States and Israel, and entrepreneur and philanthropist Stewart Rahr.
“A child who’s ill doesn’t have the chance to play with toys like regular kids their age. Whether it’s seeing a baby crawl or watching a girl with a heart monitor shoot hoops, we know that Happy Kids Heal Faster,” said Rabbi J.J. Hecht II, president of Toys for Simcha, who managed the project together with Laniado’s CEO Nadav Chein.
Following Hamas’s Oct. 7 invasion, some 8,000 internally displaced Israelis relocated to Netanya. Hundreds of them have since been treated at the Laniado Hospital.
About 80 patients were sent to the hospital in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks from the site of the Supernova music festival near Kibbutz Re’im, Kibbutz Be’eri, Kibbutz Kissufim and other communities in the northwestern Negev.
The hospital also cared for patients from Ziv Medical Center in Safed in the Upper Galilee who were relocated due to increased attacks on northern Israel by the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. Many of the patients were children.
The new pediatric playroom features a play market and kitchen, basketball hoops, climbing wall, play books, a swing, sofas, bean bag chairs and more.
“It transforms their entire hospital experience,” Chein told JNS. “The new playroom is a game-changer, for the young patients and all of their family members,” he added.
The project, which was created by architect and designer Eva Ben Yakov, will be directed by the hospital’s head pediatrician, Dr. Bella Kosinovsky, along Toys for Simcha’s team in Israel, led by Adam and Hodaia Rodriguez.
“Thank God we have this room,” Mr. and Mrs. S. told JNS. “Our 8-month-old baby, Nadav, loves to move around. Seeing him smile as he crawls around the room means the world to us,” the couple added.
The hospital serves Netanya’s 350,000 residents, and has become a safe haven for those impacted by the Oct. 7 attacks, which killed 1,200 and led to the evacuation of 217,000 Israelis from southern and northern Israel.
“I didn’t know how we would pass the time during our hospital stay,” another mother told JNS. “Hadar was throwing tantrums constantly. One hour in the playroom changed her entire demeanor,” she added.
Toys for Simcha is a division of Toys for Hospitalized Children. Based in Brooklyn, New York, the organization aims to bring happiness and healing to children who suffer from illnesses.
“We want to give young patients a feeling of comfort and serenity, a place to escape the heaviness of being hospitalized,” said Eli Cohen, member of the Toys for Simcha board of directors.