Sderot daycare center reopens after being closed since Oct. 7

It had sustained direct damage to the building during the ongoing war with Hamas in the adjacent Gaza Strip.

Staff return to the Luxenberg Daycare Center in Sderot, March 2024. Credit: Courtesy.
Staff return to the Luxenberg Daycare Center in Sderot, March 2024. Credit: Courtesy.

After months of separation since Oct. 7, Colel Chabad’s daycare center in Sderot reopened this month for the returning children of the community. The families serviced by the center—often single parents who require extra support and longer hours of childcare—had been evacuated to cities all over the country, with some staying in hotels while others spent the past several months living with family members.

The Luxenberg Daycare Center in Sderot is one of 18 daycare facilities around the country run by Colel Chabad, Israel’s longest-running social-services organization, founded in 1788 by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi.

The center, which upon reopening will serve 40 kids with more to return in the coming weeks, had sustained direct damage to the building. A rocket fell in the outside courtyard, filled with the children’s riding toys, and shrapnel pierced the building and shattered windows. Before the war, the center cared for nearly 80 children, providing essential support to families from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Sderot Daycare Reopens, Classroom, After Oct. 7
A classroom at the Luxenberg Daycare Center in Sderot, March 2024. Credit: Courtesy.

Chaya Abayev, director of the daycare center, welcomed the children back, saying: “It’s been only five months, but it feels like these children have grown so much, and it was so special to see them again and be able to greet them and their parents. As a staff, we’ve spent the past few weeks preparing for this day, both practically and emotionally.  The rooms remained almost stuck in time with the decorations from Sukkot still hanging, but we’re committed to coming back here and returning this place to one of joy and childhood innocence with the prayer that the pain and chaos we’ve been forced to experience over the last few months will be behind us.”

The development marked a step in the return to routine after a period of upheaval and trauma.

Rabbi Sholom Duchman, director of Colel Chabad, said “after so much pain and upheaval, our deepest blessing is that this center will enable Sderot’s parents to know that their children have returned to a setting where they are safe and cared for. While we know that so much still needs to be achieved, every further step towards normalcy is something that we need to celebrate and thank Hashem that he has brought us to this day.”

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Established in 1788 by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, Colel Chabad is the oldest continuously operating social-services and tzedakah network in Israel.
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