Each month, Bridges for Peace provides food to more than 24,000 people. Among them are 1,034 widows and 266 orphans. Many of the Holocaust victims we assist are widows. Some of the widows we help lost their husbands to terrorism or war. There are thousands of widows in Israel, many of them widowed young as their husbands fell in battle. Since the Ukrainian government has barred men between the ages of 18–60 permission from leaving the war-torn country, many recent female immigrants live in dread that they may become widows or fear that their husbands have already died in the conflict.
We are heeding the biblical injunction to care for the widows and orphans, feeding over 1,000 a month. One of them is Lily, who lives in Dimona. Lily was born in Argentina in 1975 and immigrated to Israel in 1978. There were six brothers and sisters in her family. The family’s economic situation was not easy, and they struggled to make a living. Lily’s father died of kidney failure and a heart attack at a young age, four months before she enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces. After Lily was released from the army, she worked at a doctor’s clinic and at the Dead Sea magnesium plant, where she met her husband. They got married and had two children. During Lily’s first pregnancy, her mother died because of a predatory bacterium while she was hospitalized. For Lily and her husband, it was unbearably difficult to continue making a living. They lived on a low -income salary and hardly had food for themselves or the baby. Two years ago, Lily stopped working due to medical problems. Her sister died a year ago from a brain injury after falling on her head in the shower. A month ago, Lily’s husband died of cardiac arrest after a long illness, and the family’s situation became even more difficult. Bridges for Peace has come alongside Lily to help her and her children with food.
In Exodus 22:22–24, we find a strong statement: “You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry; and My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows and your children fatherless.” In Deuteronomy 10:18a, we find, “He [God] administers justice for the fatherless and the widow…”
Recently, we met with former Knesset (Parliament) member Rabbi Yehudah Glick. He and his wife Hadas (who was a widow before marrying Yehudah) have formed an organization to help widows and orphans in Israel. Rabbi Glick is an upbeat, caring person. He doesn’t seem to have a shy bone in his body. Everyone who meets him feels they have a new friend. He has studied the biblical injunctions regarding the widow and orphan (often referred to as fatherless) in the Scripture. In our modern society, an orphan is someone who doesn’t have parents, but according to Glick, the biblical orphan is one who is fatherless. God often referred to the need to care for them. The Glicks also realize that widowers face specific challenges and therefore they reach out to them too.
Although not all widows have financial difficulties, all of them share the pain of loss and often suffer from loneliness. Where once they had a husband to share the raising of children, now they must do it all themselves. The Glicks want to alleviate the loneliness, providing dinners and parties to celebrate all major holidays. This year, we will partner with them for the Hanukkah (Festival of Lights) party, providing gifts to orphans and bringing light into their lives.
Will you join us to show loving care as we provide food and gifts to widows and orphans in Israel? The Prophet Isaiah said, “‘Comfort, yes, comfort My people!’ says your God” (Isa. 40:1). Your gifts to our Food Project help us feed widows, Holocaust survivors and immigrants in Israel. Your gift to our Widows and Orphans Fund help us reach out in love to the lonely and grieving in Zion.
Blessings from Israel,
Rebecca J. Brimmer
International President and CEO
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