IFCJ FOUNDER and president Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein visits the elderly in Ashdod..
(photo credit: Oren Nahshon)
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has stepped in to provide some 14,000 poor elderly Israelis with home-heating assistance amid the cold winter weather.
After being flooded with requests for assistance, the fellowship allocated some NIS 5 million to distribute NIS 300 home-heating vouchers to elderly in need in 100 municipalities across the country.
The aid is mainly going to elderly people who rely on state pensions for their subsistence and would otherwise have to choose between staying warm or paying for food, medicine or other basic necessities.
The grants are being distributed through social workers and hundreds of volunteers who go to the homes of the elderly, give them the donation and provide some companionship.
“These days, when we’re all cold and we cling to our quilts and heaters, we should think about the hundreds of seniors in Israel who live in poverty and must endure the impossible decision of choosing between warming their homes and buying food or medication,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the fellowship’s founder and president.
The initiative comes on the heels of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s announcement that the government would extend its own winter assistance to needy elderly who live beyond areas that typically suffer from extreme cold weather.
Eckstein emphasized, however, that the government aid is not enough.
“The state pensions available to Israeli seniors are the lowest in the western world and, for many of them, are not sufficient to cover basic needs,” he said.
“We welcome the decision to extend assistance to seniors during the winter season, but the allocated budget is very low and not enough to fill this need, especially the need of seniors who are in their homes all day and have to worry about heating.”