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Helping Heal the Hurting

June 1, 2011
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“’I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds,’ says the LORD,
‘because they called you an outcast saying…


“This is Zion; no one seeks her.”’”
(Jeremiah 30:17)

The Lord has called us to be part of healing the wounds caused to the Jewish people for centuries by anti-Semitism. In fact, nearly everything we do is done in love to help bring about healing. Truly, the world did treat the Jewish people as outcasts, but that is not the Lord’s plan. His plan is to bring healing and wholeness to His covenant people. Every time we give food to the needy, repair homes for those who cannot, help a child succeed in school, welcome new immigrants, and tell Israel’s story to the world, we are healing ancient wounds.

We also have opportunities to help Israelis—many of them new immigrants—who are suffering physical pain. We have written several times about how difficult it is for new immigrants to adjust to life in Israel, but we seldom have mentioned their medical needs. When we interview immigrants for entry into the Bridges for Peace Adoption Program, we find that many made aliyah (immigration) because they knew that they could receive good medical or dental care here that was not available to them in the countries where they were living. Though most of these countries offer free socialized medical care, they often don’t have the necessary advanced equipment, medicine, and expertise that are found in Israel.

Every Israeli citizen, including new immigrants, is entitled to national health insurance, but unfortunately, that insurance does not cover all the needs. Even if it covered 80 to 90%, the cost of some critical care needs or chronic care needs is exorbitant, especially for new immigrants who haven’t mastered Hebrew yet and can’t find a good-paying job. Of course, other Israelis, who live under the poverty line, find such circumstances just as difficult to manage as do the new immigrants.

I know about these costs firsthand. My husband is a diabetic and receives excellent care in Israel, but our monthly bill for medications and supplies is over US $300, and we only pay a small percentage of the cost since the medical insurance covers the bulk. For people living on very small incomes who have an ongoing need for prescription medications, this can be untenable. Often people have to choose between medicine or food.

For years now, Bridges for Peace has had a Dental Program to help defray the cost of expensive dental care, which is not covered by national health insurance at all. When funds are available, we have also helped pay medical bills for those who struggle just to put food on the table.

Two Families Helped

Shoshana, a native-born Israeli, wrote us:

As we do not have financial means, and I suffered from a cist in my gums, I needed an urgent operation. After the operation, my doctor told me that I need to change my artificial teeth; otherwise I’ll damage my mouth. I am thankful to the Lord that through BFP, He sent me part of the money that was needed for my mouth to be rebuilt, and I am very thankful with you and your donors.

The Ivanitsky family wrote us pleading for help:

Before coming to Israel, we lived in the Ukraine, and Georgy [their son] had a heart surgery there when he was eight months old. It was his surgeon’s guilt that his spinal nerve was affected during the surgery, and it caused a total paralysis of his legs. Only Israeli doctors were able to help him, but according to the medical comment, he will never be able to walk by himself. Georgy moves around with the help of special apparatuses and a pair of crutches that need to be replaced every year because he is growing up quickly. The apparatuses are made to his measurements. The price of the apparatus is 25,000 NIS [more than US $7,000]. We cannot afford paying even partly for this apparatus. We have no family in Israel who can help us financially.

In less than four months time from the date of this letter, we received yet another request asking if we could help pay for a wheelchair for Georgy, who is now just six years old.

Helping Chernobyl Victims

Several times a month, Pieter Marais, our Israel Operations director, and I visit Jewish organizations that Bridges for Peace assists with food. In March, we visited the Association for Support of Chernobyl Radioactive Victims. The day we visited, the failure of the Fukushima nuclear threat in Japan was in the news.

These Chernobyl survivors who came as immigrants to Israel carried out rescue operations and saved people affected by the radioactive nuclear fallout in Chernobyl, just like many in Japan are now facing. As a result, they got sick with numerous diseases. Five of them have died of cancer during the last three years.

They thanked us for providing food parcels for them, which we’ve done for many years, but now they are asking if we are able to help them pay for some of the ongoing medication needed for those who continue to suffer.

Special Help for Cancer Patients

Another organization that has applied for help is the Yuri Shtern Holistic Center. We have a particularly special place in our heart for this center simply because we knew Yuri Shtern, who lost his battle to cancer in 2007. He founded the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and was a close friend of ours and of the Christian world. During his illness, his family realized how much cancer patients suffer and how much comfort can be received from extras not covered by Israeli medical insurance, including special medicines not included in the “basket of medications,” such as reflexology and massage. After his death, his family established the Yuri Shtern Foundation, which provides complementary alternative medical treatments that ease the process of coping with cancer and increase chances of recovery.

One of their goals is to enable all patients—regardless of religion, race, gender, or financial means—to have access to complementary treatments not covered by national health insurance plans, which includes even the caregivers! Truly, this is a worthy cause.

Lack of Funds

We would love to help with all of these needs, but our funds for these kinds of needs are very limited. We are praying that God will enlarge our capacity to help, so we can offer more assistance to those who suffer. So, instead of just raising funds for dental needs, we are expanding the program to meet medical needs as well. We believe that it is God’s heart to bring healing to His people and are happy to be the hands that can provide with love. If you want to help, please send any size gift to the Dental/Medical Aid project. We can bring relief to those in pain and suffering.

Blessings from Jerusalem,

Rebecca J. Brimmer
International President and CEO