One out of four senior citizens in Israel – about 160,000 individuals – cannot
afford to pay for central heating in their homes this winter, according to a
recent survey released by the International Fellowship of Christians and
The survey also revealed that the same number of elderly people
find themselves having to choose between spending their money on food, medicine
or heating and that some have to give up on basic necessities to pay for
electricity in the winter.
About half of those who said they have had to
forgo heating this winter reported that they had often done so in the past as
In addition, the data collected showed that one in five seniors has
had to give up the use of hot water on average three times a week in the past
couple of months.
“The situation is very bad,” 68-year-old Vicky Malka
told The Jerusalem Post on the phone from her apartment in the capital on
Thursday. “I don’t have a way to heat up my house and it is very cold
Malka, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease which prevented her
from staying on the phone for long, explained that the recent rains and snowfall
worsened her situation.
“Every winter is hard for me, but this one is the
worse. Soon I will run out of electricity, and I can’t heat up water for
showers. I have nothing,” she said.
Malka explained that her Talpiot
apartment is in bad condition in general, with a lot of mold and a rusted
“I have no strength. People need to understand that old people
are in very bad situations; the government needs to understand that and increase
the allowances, instead of continuing to cut them,” she said.
“I am ready
to fight for this.
We, the seniors, are ready to make a lot of noise
until they start understanding,” she added.
“I want to cry sometimes when
I watch the news on TV and nobody talks about old
Eighty-year-old Elsa Caspinov of Safed said she knows cold
weather from her hometown, Moscow, but noted that there, every indoor area was
well equipped with heating devices.
“Here, my wood floor is freezing.
It’s hard, this winter is very hard,” she said.
“We’re doing with what we
have. We have a heating system but we turn it on for an hour and then turn it
off because it is very, very expensive here.”
Caspinov explained that she
and her husband have been layering their clothing at home to keep
“We often say that Safed is just like Siberia in winter,” she
The fellowship’s survey, which was conducted for the second year
in a row and sampled 400 seniors, also showed that 28 percent of the respondents
reported that their economic situation had worsened in comparison to last year.
About a third of them reported that they needed financial assistance for
heating, pharmaceuticals, transportation and other basic needs, while 60 percent
believe that the government is not doing enough for the elderly.
fellowship begun its annual “Warm Friendship” operation earlier this month with
the goal of providing some 16,000 seniors with financial assistance in the sum
of NIS 500. In addition, the fellowship started distributing some 11,000
blankets to elderly people who need them.
These benefits will be given
out in 110 towns considered cold according to the National Insurance Institute’s
This includes 68 Jewish communities, 41 Arab towns and one
Priority is given to people 75 and older in
This year, the operation’s allocated budget is approximately NIS
Since 2006, the fellowship has spent over NIS 75 million in
similar initiatives and assisted tens of thousands of seniors in need.