By Catherine Green
As Rosh Hashanah approaches, the requests for assistance from underprivileged families in Israel are pouring into the Yad Ezra V’Shulamit offices. This year, with the High Holidays aligning so tightly with the new school year, the weight of additional expenses for those who can normally get by on a month-to-month basis have dramatic effects. At Yad Ezra V’Shulamit, a charity at the forefront of feeding the hungry, the severity of the situation amounts in an additional 25,000 requests pouring in so far. Everyone, from the volunteers to the founder of the organization, knows that behind each request lies a person — a mother, a father, a child — facing extreme difficulty. This awareness makes the task of prioritizing donations feel like an impossible decision.
Founded on the principle that no child in Israel should go without food, providing it is at the core of the organization’s efforts. But their assistance goes beyond feeding hungry children and families in Israel to programs that take actionable steps to break the cycle of poverty in Israel. These outreach programs provide a framework for people to eventually become self-sufficient and in some cases even cross over to the giving side of charity.
Take, for example, Oren, who came to the job desk at Yad Ezra V’Shulamit two years ago. With minimal education and a family to support, finding a job he could grow in was challenging. The professional staff helped him find points to highlight in his limited résumé and coached him on interview tips, helping him learn to focus on his drive and work ethic.
Yad Ezra V’Shulamit helped him secure a job at a call center as a customer-support agent, where there was room to grow within the company. While he was getting on his feet with a minimum-wage job, Yad Ezra V’Shulamit also provided food and childcare at the children’s center, enabling him and his family to focus on getting their heads above water without the burden of these basic expenses weighing them down.
Oren showed adeptness at customer relations and grew in his role, developing his own methods to improve customer satisfaction, earning bonuses and saving a lot of money for his company. He now has more confidence and better communication skills than he did when he first approached the job desk, and is currently moving into a role that will provide a higher salary than he ever dreamed possible.
While the organization merits to see hundreds of success stories like Oren’s each year, the requests for assistance grow each year as well, leaving the decision-makers at Yad Ezra V’Shulamit with the daunting task of stretching its available food and funds for the holidays and beyond.
How can they choose when each request holds the possibility of providing an impoverished family with a new beginning? The rabbinical advice by Rav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita, they received was: Don’t — whoever needs help from Yad Ezra V’Shulamit will get it!
The question is how much, as each request that comes in takes food out of the mouths of someone else in need.
While there is government funding provided to nonprofits, at 13 shekels per family per week, the state funding doesn’t cover the price of a jar of honey. It is here that the organization’s donors play the biggest role for Yad Ezra V’Shulamit’s continued success. Your donation can turn this impossible decision into a possibility of a new beginning for an impoverished Israeli family this year.
*Names have been changed for confidentiality.