A knock on the door brings an excitement to her step. Fixing her thinning hair and dressing gown, Rose rushes to open the front door. “You remembered me,” she cries as the gift basket is presented to her, “You remembered my birthday!” Rose completely captured our hearts. Walking into her one-room apartment, you would be shocked to see the few things she owns. Precious Rose looks so frail—you just want to hug her for a long time. Rose knows all about loss and having to survive on very little.
She finds it too difficult to speak of her own experience in the Holocaust and instead tells someone else’s story. “My husband lost 92 family members in the Holocaust,” she says quite matter-of-factly. But the pain of the loneliness after losing her husband is still fresh in her mind, as tears stream down her cheeks.
Edward, another survivor on the food program never speaks about the past—it is too painful to think about what was lost. Instead Edward points to the future, to what came after the suffering. He boasts in front of a wall of photographs—his pride and joy—pointing out the many precious memories he has enjoyed with his family. With delight he will show you the pictures of his grandchildren born in Israel and now members of the Israel Defense Forces.
This thought had never entered my mind until recently when I was reading about the suffering of the elderly in Israel. Sadly, according to a social survey by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, 42% of Israelis aged 75 and above suffer from loneliness. This fact breaks my heart. All over Israel there are elderly people suffering all alone—many of them survivors of the carnage of the Holocaust. For some the loneliness is hard to bear but the bigger concern is where their next meal will come from. A deep-rooted fear in the hearts of Holocaust survivors is the fear of running out of food, a result from years of suffering food restrictions. Right now, tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors are living below the poverty line in Israel and relying on food donations from organizations like Bridges for Peace to survive from day to day.
To Rose, Edward and the other Holocaust survivors on our Food Program, Bridges for Peace is not just an organization but part of their family. And the survivors we assist become part of our family. Recently when one of the Holocaust recipients passed away, there were fond memories and tears shed by our volunteers as they remembered the moments spent with this special elderly lady.
The food deliveries to the Holocaust survivors are about much more than food; they are about showing the love of God. Showing up at their doors on a regular basis bearing food, hugs, smiles and birthday gifts is the most special part of their day.
Your support is key in helping to solve the problem of hunger and loneliness among the elderly Holocaust survivors in Israel. Many are the challenges that the elderly have to face and they face these challenges all alone. But you can make a difference. Your gift will make it known to these precious people that they have not been forgotten and cast off but remembered and loved by Christians around the world. You can ensure that the Holocaust survivors will have enough to eat, that they receive a gift basket for their birthdays and feel the love of God when we visit their homes.
I ask you to give generously to our Food Program so that we can increase the number of Holocaust survivors that receive food support. We are approaching the winter months and it is a difficult time for the elderly of Israel. As a Bible-believing Christian I ask you to take the word of God to heart and remember the elderly in their time of need.
“Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength fails” (Ps. 71:9).
These precious people have suffered so much and for many, our staff are the first Christians that have ever shown them real love and compassion. And there are so many more in need. Please help us care for them.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Rebecca J. Brimmer
International President and CEO
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