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 The first of the Hanukkah train sets was delivered to the Shalva Children's Center in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem on Wednesday evening, while the other two will be handed over in coming days to the Alyn Family Hospital and the AKIM-Jerusalem network of care and respite homes.

Everyone loves electric train sets, and these colourful and captivating holiday gifts will mean year-round fun for hundreds of special youngsters, while also providing them with a distinctive form of therapy.

Each layout will have two trains that run through elaborate and customized landscapes of buildings, streets, fields and trees. In one an entire circus has come to town.

As a group of handicapped children at Shalva gathered around the train set last night, their faces beamed with excitement as they peered down into a miniature world of lights, motion and sound. The small-town setting featured passengers waiting at a station for an authentic model of Israel's own commuter trains, while nearby people stroll by a working Ferris Wheel and carousel, amid circus games and vendor stands. Across the street, a wedding reception is taking place in a hall with rotating dance floors, with the men and women dancing separately according to Jewish tradition.

Special thanks go out to the ICEJ branches in Germany and Norway, as well as the US-based Ministry to Israel, for providing funds for these wonderful train sets.

The three children's centers that are receiving the trains are all worthy benefactors who share common goals: to get the most out of each disabled child, and to take them out of the old institutional settings and gain their acceptance as full members of society.

Shalva, meaning "peace of mind" in Hebrew, is a one-of-a-kind care center for children with Downs' Syndrome, autism and other mental and physical challenges. Celebrating its bar mitzvah this December, Shalva is currently housed in a unique seven-story building overlooking the Jerusalem Forest named "Beit Nachshon" ? in honour of Nachshon Wachsman, an IDF soldier kidnapped and murdered by Hamas in 1994. He is especially remembered for his deep love for his younger brother Raphael, a Downs' child attending Shalva.

The Alyn Pediatric and Adolescent Rehabilitation Center, located in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood of Jerusalem, is known throughout Israel and abroad for providing quality and innovative treatment, therapy and rehabilitation services to children with a vast range of physical and cognitive disabilities, from kids with Muscular Dystrophy to those severely injured in road accidents or terrorist attacks. Founded in 1971, Alyn today is a unique, state-of-the-art hospital that houses and/or provides treatment to hundreds of handicapped children from a variety of social, ethnic and religious backgrounds.

AKIM-Jerusalem is an association of parents and volunteers who provide community-based housing and special programs and services for some 1,000 children and adults in the Jerusalem area with mental retardation or other development problems. Established in 1952, Akim today operates a network of 18 group homes, hostels and respite centers that provide a caring and loving environment for their special residents, as well as exceptional programs that help them integrate into the community at large.

The ICEJ was also able to spread a little holiday cheer to other parts of Israel this Hanukkah, as our Social Assistance department and Jerusalem Ministry Center both distributed Hanukkah gift baskets to dozens of needy families to help them celebrate this occasion.