US Christians Providing Hundreds of Thousands of Needy Israeli and Russian Jews with Food, Clothing for Passover
Passover Issue, 2017
By Staff Writer
More than 150,000 needy Israelis and 200,000 needy Jews in the former Soviet Union, from all walks of life, will receive food and clothing for the Passover holiday, thanks to International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship).
The Fellowship will distribute more than $2.8 million in Passover aid to needy Israelis, including the elderly and Holocaust survivors, children, new immigrants and those serving in the Israel Defense Forces, with gift cards or vouchers that recipients can use, anonymously, and tailor to their own needs and tastes.
The Fellowship is also providing $2.65 million in aid to more than 200,000 needy Jews in the former Soviet Union including food packages and matzah, communal Seders, food cards, and other holiday food products.
The Passover aid in Israel will include:
- Vouchers for 26,760 families to purchase food in supermarkets;
- Grants for 12,500 Lone Soldiers (those who immigrate alone and serve in the IDF) and other needy soldiers to purchase food and clothing, in collaboration with the Friends of the IDF; and
- Vouchers for 26,280 children receiving welfare to purchase new clothes.
Almost three years have passed since the Israeli government's committee to combat poverty submitted its recommendations, but the government has barely enacted a comprehensive, multi-year campaign to reduce poverty and social gaps in Israel.
Last December, Israel's National Insurance Institute's poverty report again showed an increase in poverty in Israel, with about one-third of Israeli children and one-fifth of Israeli families living below the poverty line. Many social service organizations aid Israeli citizens for Passover, but not enough to meet the growing demand for assistance.
The Fellowship's founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, said The Fellowship and others are filling social welfare gaps that a special Knesset panel on poverty, the Alalouf Committee, in 2014 recommended ways to redress, but have barely been carried out.
“Poverty in Israel, the start-up nation, is not the decree of fate or a plague from God: Poverty is the result of a government policy that drastically reduced its social expenditures and neglected the weak,” says Eckstein. “It is a Shanda (shame) that Israel is ranked at the bottom of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) annual list of national poverty rankings.”
“If the Government of Israel were to implement the recommendations of the Alalouf Committee plan, on how to reduce poverty, then The Fellowship and other non-profits would not have to be supporting needy citizens in Israeli society.”
Over the past five years, The Fellowship has donated roughly $28 million for Passover holiday aid to Israelis in need, part of its annual support of $88 million provided for Israeli welfare, immigration and homeland security.
In addition to the Passover assistance to needy Israelis, The Fellowship has also donated a similar amount over the past five years to provide more than 200,000 needy Jews in the former Soviet Union, China, Morocco and elsewhere with food packages, food cards, matzah, Passover food and communal Seders.