As we confront challenges in our world, it can be disheartening. Despite this, we must remember that light shines brightest in darkness. In this month’s article, read about the selfless efforts of two Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) students as they assist a family in Israel affected by the Middle East Crisis.
In 2014, AnnaMae Predtechenskis attended Camp Shoshanah, a conference, retreat and Bible camp in northern New York. There, she met Liel, a nonverbal and autistic 13-year-old born and raised in Israel. AnnaMae was immediately drawn to how Liel interacted with others.
“My first instinct after meeting her was, ‘I don’t fully understand how you see the world, but I want to understand,’” AnnaMae shared.
The two became fast friends, and eventually, AnnaMae met Liel’s family. In 2017, AnnaMae saw the family’s request for a caregiver at camp, and she and her sister Claire volunteered to care for Liel. Ever since their days at Camp Shoshanah, AnnaMae and Claire have stayed in touch with the family.
When Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, 2023, Claire and AnnaMae immediately contacted Liel’s family. They offered their home to Liel, whose bed was moved to a bomb shelter because of the attacks. In a few hours, Liel’s parents formulated a plan to help her escape to the United States. They wrote a notarized letter to the Israeli government giving Claire and AnnaMae temporary, legal guardianship of Liel, and continued to pray.
After overcoming several logistical obstacles, Liel’s parents drove her to the airport, unsure of when they would see their daughter next.
AnnaMae works at Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, and is currently working on her Master of Science in Nursing at PBA. Claire is finishing her undergraduate nursing classes at PBA and works at the St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach. Despite their chaotic schedules, they welcomed Liel with open arms.
After Liel arrived in Florida, AnnaMae and Claire had to navigate their new life as students, nurses, and now caretakers. Still, they have seen God’s hand at work.
“…By being obedient to The Lord, not only have my sister and I just been so blessed by Liel, but her parents have been able to minister to a lot of grieving people in Israel,” Claire said. “To do the smallest act of obedience and then see the domino effect of it has been incredible.”
They have also been encouraged by the overwhelming support of people who want to help. Liel competed on the Special Olympics swimming team in Israel. When she arrived in Florida, Claire and AnnaMae reached out to the Adolph and Rose Jewish Community Center in Boca Raton, which agreed to fully fund Liel’s participation in their after-school program.
“Navigating school and work and now caring for Liel has been challenging, but there is so much comfort in knowing that God is a good Father who sees me and loves me and is never going to let me go,” AnnaMae explained. “I fully trust that God will provide a way through whatever storm comes our way.”
Learn more about this incredible story, which has been highlighted in the news.
Bio: Dr. Debra A. Schwinn, a physician, researcher and innovator, is president of Palm Beach Atlantic University. (www.pba.edu)