I am 44, and I am married with four children. I have been sick with diabetes since 1998, and as a consequence, my veins got clogged, and there is no flow of blood. I have not been working for half a year because of the complications with my right leg. I underwent a heart bypass, and a plastic vein was implanted. After several weeks, the vein got clogged. They have had to amputate one toe, and another toe is black and supposed to fall off with time. My wife helps me and moves me in a wheelchair. Since I have not worked for half a year already, and my wife does not work because she has to take care of me, our financial situation has deteriorated greatly.
Gidon is only one of many native Israelis in crisis whom we are helping. They may be suffering from the aftereffects of a terror attack, a major medical crisis, the loss of a job, or are elderly Holocaust survivors. We also help the young, especially college students struggling to provide for their most basic needs while studying. Since we first began distributing food, we have helped many Israeli immigrants, like Rachel. For eight years, she has received food from us through one of the many benevolent organizations we sponsor. Rachel is an uneducated Ethiopian with six children, two of whom are still in school. She cleans houses and takes care of the elderly and has not taken a holiday since she arrived in Israel 15 years ago. Rachel said our food helped raise her children and even now is helping take them through university and military service. Rachel said she will be forever thankful to us because of our unconditional love for her and her family.
Not Just Food—It’s about People!
We can look at food as just a commodity that we move from one point to another by forklift and truck. At our Outreach Center in Jerusalem, we know it is much more. It’s about people. Our staff—who speak English, Hebrew, Russian, and Spanish—get to know them. We listen to their stories; we pray for their needs; we cry when they hurt; and we rejoice over their victories. We know that the food they come for each week is not extra, but essential. We’ve watched some on our Adoption Program, which is only for one year, cry in desperation at the end of their year, because they don’t know how they will make it without our help. Sometimes they come by on Friday to see if there is any food left that wasn’t picked up during the week. We also know there are always more hungry people than we can presently help. Although doubling last year’s amount sounds very ambitious, even that goal falls far short in comparison to the need. Israel’s latest report on poverty shows that 46,000 more people have been defined as poor. A spokesman for the Ministry of Social Affairs estimates that about 3,000 people live on the streets. So poverty in Israel is increasing, not declining. Some food-aid agencies are experiencing as much as a 27% rise in the number of people requesting help.
What about the North?
The Jerusalem Post reported that the North has the highest poverty rate of any area in Israel outside Jerusalem. Twenty-nine percent of families and 40% of children in the North live below the poverty line, according to the National Insurance Institute. Since last summer’s war, the situation has worsened. One resident interviewed said, “Since the war, many people have lost their jobs or gone out of business. Unemployment in the region is almost double what it is elsewhere in the country.” This is not surprising when, during the war, it was reported that 10,000 businesses in the North were on the verge of collapse. We have been distributing food in Jerusalem, by far the poorest city in Israel, since 1990. Although we have been making deliveries to the north and south of Jerusalem for years, it is time now to set up a more permanent base in the second highest area of poverty—the North. But poverty is not the only factor that stirs us to place an additonal focus on the North. It is the political reality as well. Hizbullah on Israel’s northern border and Iran’s nuclear threat keep Israel’s military ready for action any day. After the recent suicide bombing in Eilat, the city’s first, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert remarked that the “lull” was deceiving. Indeed, there is no such thing as a lull in Israel. The enemy, even if “quiet,” is busy preparing for the next offensive. Everyone knows another major conflict will erupt very soon. We want to be ready, poised to assist the populace in their time of greatest need. There are many ways to help, such as undertaking some of the infrastructural needs of the new center; but overall, our greatest need always remains food. If the Lord has not laid another one of our projects on your heart, would you consider making a donation for food? A monthly commitment would be great. Any size donation is always welcome and helpful. Some of you might want to give by the ton, half ton, or quarter ton. It’s a large amount, but you might consider getting your Sunday School class or Bible study group or even your church to undertake such a commitment. We are confident that God has led us to expand our work to the North, so we are equally confident that God will lead our donors to finance it and will provide the seed for the sowing. “Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness” (2 Corinthians 9:10).
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Rebecca J. Brimmer
International President and CEO
Multiply Your Gift!
Just as it did last year, the Feinstein Foundation of Rhode Island is offering a US $1 million giveaway to fight hunger. The money will be divided between hunger-fighting organizations raising funds during March and April with a maximum of US $50,000 being the highest award. The more money raised, the more will be awarded. This is the time to give when your gift will multiply!
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