Grandmother Gitta Zarum marked her 82nd birthday by leaping off the UK’s highest freefall abseil – the ArcelorMittal Orbit at London’s Olympic Park. She was one of nine people who took on the challenge to raise funds for vulnerable and at-risk children who are supported by Emunah projects and services in Israel. In a busy week for Emunah, the abseil – which has raised £2,000 to date – is one of four activities that have raised over £20,000 towards a new dormitory at the Afula children’s home and a summer programme of activities and therapies.
Leading by example, participants in the Big Emunah Drop on Sunday 2 July 2017 included British Emunah director Deborah Nathan and Emunah trustee and past chairman Camille Compton. The latter jumped with her daughter Eleanor Compton and friends Rachel Green and Sylvie Hodes, all aged 18. Also abseiling was childminder Francine Wunsh and JFS student Abi Dewinter (17). The youngest was Avi Benarroch, 16, who attends Hasmonean High School.
Speaking of her 80m freefall descent, Gitta Zarum said: “Wow – what an experience. Strapped into a harness felt like being in a straightjacket – perhaps appropriate for agreeing to do this! I am glad to be back on firm land. Stepping off the edge backwards meant a few moments of extreme scariness but having emunah – faith – really helped. The view was beautiful going down and you could see for miles. It was a perfect day with a blue sky and hardly a cloud.” Gitta was aware of Emunah’s work “since I was a child in Manchester, when the organisation began as Women’s Mizrachi… so I grew up with the idea that through Emunah you could help vulnerable children in Israel.” Her own history includes joining the Israeli army’s Nachal (agricultural arm) and being a transcriber for the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem when she lived in Israel.
Gitta Zarum adds: “I’m not in a position to physically help those who need it, but by doing an activity and getting sponsorship, I have raised funds to pay for the qualified professional people at Emunah who can actually help.”
British Emunah director Deborah Nathan said: “Going over the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit was very scary, but from then on it was fun and we all enjoyed it. I am proud of everyone who took part and especially Gitta [Zarum], who is inspirational. We are grateful to everyone who has supported us.”
Added Francine Wunsh: “I did it [the Emunah Big Drop] and it was amazing.”