International Fellowship of Christians and Jews celebrates Israelis' 100th birthdays

The gathering was part of the With Dignity and Fellowship program, which provides elderly Israelis who do not have a support network with weekly food deliveries, medicine and other services.

 IFCJ celebrates Israelis' 100th birthdays  (photo credit: Chen Shimmel)
IFCJ celebrates Israelis' 100th birthdays
(photo credit: Chen Shimmel)

Several Israelis who are 100 years old or almost that age attended a celebration hosted by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) on Tuesday.

The event was held at the Ashdod senior center and included live Russian and Amharic music, gifts and a cake with 100 candles.

The gathering was part of the With Dignity and Fellowship program, which provides elderly Israelis who do not have a support network with weekly food deliveries, medicine and other services for the rest of their lives.

IFCJ celebrates Israelis' 100th birthdays (Credit: Chen Shimmel)IFCJ celebrates Israelis' 100th birthdays (Credit: Chen Shimmel)

Holocaust survivors tell their stories

One of the attendees, Nyosya Bandurenski, a Holocaust survivor, was forced to flee to Siberia when her husband was drafted by the Soviet army in World War II.

“Just a month ago I came down with Corona and I’m still not feeling strong,” Bandurenski said. “This party makes me very happy to be here and gives me the strength to carry on. It’s so encouraging to know that people like me are being remembered and I thank all the people from the Fellowship who are always staying in touch with me and celebrating these types of special occasions.”

IFCJ celebrates Israelis' 100th birthdays (Credit: Chen Shimmel)IFCJ celebrates Israelis' 100th birthdays (Credit: Chen Shimmel)

“Through our financial, practical and social support, we are honored and driven to providing essential food and medicine, companionship and social activities to this valued community for as many years as they live.”

IFCJ president Yael Eckstein

Another attendee, Nina Cohen, turned 100 the day of the party. She was born in Egypt, from which she emigrated to Israel in 1949 after a series of antisemitic attacks against the Egyptian Jewish community. Cohen's home in Ashkelon was hit by a rocket last year and she was hospitalized for shock.

IFCJ celebrates Israelis' 100th birthdays (Credit: Chen Shimmel)IFCJ celebrates Israelis' 100th birthdays (Credit: Chen Shimmel)

“It was a huge miracle that we were in the house but got out alive,” she said. “All the windows shattered and the house shook and was filled with smoke but God was looking out for us. Our downstairs neighbor was killed and I can still hear her husband screaming for help.”

IFCJ president Yael Eckstein said: “The IFCJ supports 56,000 elderly members of Israeli society through multiple programs in locations all around the country, 18,000 of which are part of the With Dignity and Fellowship program. Through our financial, practical and social support, we are honored and driven to providing essential food and medicine, companionship and social activities to this valued community for as many years as they live. We will not abandon them. It’s our great honor and pride to be able to learn from them, respect them and celebrate with them in honor of their incredible lives and contributions.”

IFCJ's With Dignity and Fellowship provides social and practical services to over 18,000 elderly Israelis across the country, including 8,000 Holocaust survivors.