Family gatherings, fresh cooked latkes, children unwrapping their holiday goodies. For most kids, Chanuka is a time for anticipating the latest Star Wars Light Saber, Barbie House, and Quad Copter Drone.
But in Israel, many children aspire to a different kind of gift.
At Yad Ezra V'Shulamit's Children's Centers, the simple gift of a new coat or a hot lunch brings a huge smile to an 8 year old girl who lives under the poverty line.
Sara and her younger sister Ruthie come every day for a nutritious meal, help with their homework and the love they receive from the counselors. Their father was killed in an accident leaving their mother and them to fend for themselves. "So many of our recipients are widows or orphans," explained Tefilla Buxbaum, Director of Yad Ezra V'Shulamit. “You can see the pain in their eyes as they walk through the door".
A hot meal or a new coat for Sara is the greatest present in the world. "We only get bread or noodles at home My zipper was broken on my coat and we couldn't afford a new one. There is also a tear on the side. I felt embarrassed to go with such a coat but what could I do?"
Founder Aryeh Lurie feeds 500 children a hot meal, distributes 3,000 food baskets each week and gives 1,400 coats out every year to underprivileged children. Why? Because he knows what it is like to be a hungry child and to not have a coat. "In my day, sometimes I had a sandwhich for school and sometimes my friend did. We would share and each one would get a half. We also received hand me down coats or something from a Gemach (clothing bank). No one thought less of you if your coat was torn. Today, kids are ostracized if they don't have the latest styles," explained Lurie.
“My goal is to give these children everything they need in a dignified way. It isn't bad to be poor if you have your dignity and self-respect. You learn and how to care about others. It is so important to protect the self-esteem of people who need help".
Besides hot lunches, food baskets and coats, Lurie hopes to once again distribute blankets, heaters, and sweaters to all children in need. "I saw a child come in the winter with socks and sandals. One family told us that they had one coat for 2 kids so they took turns going to school. You wouldn’t believe such a story happens to Jewish kids in Israel in 2015, but we see this every day. We have to help these kids break out of the cycle of poverty.”
This holiday season, you have a chance to give a hot meal and a warm coat to a needy Jewish child in Israel. To see a child’s smile upon receiving a vital essential, a simple coat, a wholesome lunch, is reward on to itself!
We invite you to help us in assuring our children have what they need in order to feel safe, nourished, and loved. These are the basics that help lay the foundation for a successful and productive future.
They turn to us and we turn to you. Bring the light of Chanukah into the lives of Jewish children in Israel. Donate now at www.yadezra.net!
VIDEO: Holiday Message from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu