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Nothing to Eat

March 1, 2010
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As I read the words “nothing to eat,” my mind immediately leaped to an article I had just read in The Jerusalem Post entitled, “The dire plight of Israel’s most poor.” In the article, researchers from Bar Ilan University and the University of Bristol compared the plight of Israel’s poor as compared to the needy in the United Kingdom and found Israel’s poor live in a much deeper state of poverty and are far more socially isolated than their counterparts in the United Kingdom. The report tells of Israelis going without meals, having their utilities shut off, and going without medicine and medical treatment.

The news did not surprise me, as we continue to notice an increase in the number of people coming to us for food. And we are not alone—the soup kitchens and community centers we assist all tell us that the need has grown. Minister of Welfare, Isaac Herzog, talks about the worsening situation for the poor and warns that it is leading to more desperation and increased violence in the society, “A sober analysis discloses the reality. Israel is faced with a clear and present danger of increased violence and individual instability.”

Another article tells of children stealing food so they can eat and tells of 45% of needy families who claim that their young do not receive even one hot meal a day, including in-school or after-school programs.

Many Christians wear bracelets which say WWJD (What would Jesus do?). It seems so clear to me!! Yeshua would feed them. We have the accounts of His compassion and His ingenuity! He fed the 4,000. He fed the 5,000. He wants to feed the people of Israel today. And, He has asked Bridges for Peace to be the hands and feet that bring the food to the people with godly compassion and Christian love.

Making a Difference

Last month, we gave over 66 tons of food to nearly 27,000 people in 49 different communities. The food we provide makes such a difference in their lives, especially for large families. One family with seven children, 17 years old and younger, tells us that the money saved on groceries enables them to buy other necessities for their children. Another family told us that our contribution to their food needs has cut their grocery bill by two-thirds! And the food we provide is carefully selected so moms can make well balanced and nutritious meals for their families.

Each month Ines receives food from us. She is a single mother with two children, one a student and the other grown up now. She made aliyah (immigrated) to Israel eight years ago. Like most other immigrants, she struggled in every way to become established. While she was in this process, she found out that she has a blood disease, which has made it impossible for her to work. She is receiving 1700 NIS (US $450) disability payment from national insurance each month, but this does not even cover the rent on her one-bedroom apartment. Her situation is desperate. She is deeply thankful for Bridges for Peace because she is dependent on our food assistance for her basic meals.

One of our drivers in Karmiel, Philip, tells how he is enthusiastically greeted at one of his deliveries in Haifa. Here, he delivers food for an ultra-Orthodox community. The rabbi greets him with a big smile and a hug, but he doesn’t come alone. He brings seven or eight of his young 10–11-year-old students with him. As soon as the truck shows up, the boys race alongside the truck, eager to help unload the food. They argue over who is going to push the dolly up the hill. But they don’t just unload it; they bag it too. They know that this food has come from Christians who love the Jewish people. Philip marvels as he watches this rabbi teaching his young students how to build relationships with Christians and how to care for the poor among them. What a blessing to be a part of the education of the next generation among the Orthodox!

“Multiply Our Resources!”

Though we provide 27,000 people with food each month, the statistics are staggering. More than 1.6 million live under the poverty line, and 400,000 of them are in dire need. Our food bank, one of the largest in Israel, is only providing food for a small percentage of the needy. In fact, it would be like Yeshua only feeding 66 of the 4,000, if compared to the 1.6 million. When He looks at the people of Israel, many of whom immigrated in the past 20 years, do you think He feels compassion for them? Does He want us, His modern-day talmidim (disciples), to feed the hungry? My heart says a resounding, YES!

My prayer today:“Oh Lord, may we be Your hands and feet reaching out with Your love to those in need. Multiply our resources, O Lord!” Thank you for your compassion and generosity. Together, we are feeding the people of Israel. We are praying for you that God will bless you as you bless the people of Israel (Genesis 12:3).

Blessings from Jerusalem,

Rebecca J. Brimmer
International President and CEO