IFCJ grant enables soup kitchen deliveries for Israelis during lockdown

As Israel’s social welfare systems struggle to keep up with extraordinary demand due to coronavirus, the IFCJ implements measures ‘above and beyond’ the aid they’ve provided to Israel for decades.

An emergency grant by The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews enables soup kitchen meal delivery to help those who can no longer come to them for aid (photo credit: IFCJ)
An emergency grant by The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews enables soup kitchen meal delivery to help those who can no longer come to them for aid
(photo credit: IFCJ)
Israel’s soup kitchens, along with most of its vital social welfare systems, are struggling to find ways to help those who can no longer come to them for aid. Authorities have directed citizens to shelter at home to fight the spread of the coronavirus, meaning the increasing number of people in desperate need of food have a harder time getting it.
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) responded immediately by providing additional funding to help the soup kitchens deliver food directly to the homes of those in need.
The Fellowship has provided financial and volunteer support to Israel’s soup kitchens since 2001. Last year alone, the organization provided $1 million to support more than a dozen soup kitchens throughout the country. These soup kitchens delivered 1.6 million meals to 7,000 people, most of whom are elderly, disabled, or single parents struggling to support a family alone.
Yoav Azran, manager of the Mana Hama soup kitchen, says that the request for meals and food packages has doubled since the pandemic began.
“We are not allowed to open the restaurant, so either people come here to pick up the food or we bring it to them at home,” Azran said. “We are in Ashdod, and not all the children of the elderly live in the same city. We get requests from children who ask us to help their parents with food, as they cannot come because of the quarantine or because they have lost their jobs and they do not have the economic ability to help their families.” 
Thanks to The Fellowship’s emergency grant, Mana Hama and a wide network of other soup kitchens throughout Israel can continue their vital work, delivering meals to the homes of those in need, at a time when they need it most and with most North American Jewish organizations having to concentrate their attention on the growing local needs there. The Fellowship’s laser focus on Israel is more essential than ever.

Mana Hama soup kitchen preparing meals for delivery during the coronavirus pandemic (Credit: IFCJ)Mana Hama soup kitchen preparing meals for delivery during the coronavirus pandemic (Credit: IFCJ)

Tova, an 83-year-old Holocaust survivor who lives in Ashdod, relies on daily hot meals from the soup kitchen to survive. She lives alone, and even in the best of circumstances, her mobility is limited and her income provides her with barely enough to get by.
“My husband passed away and I live in a small apartment that we received from the government many years ago,” Tova said. “I worked as a cook since we made aliyah, but I don’t have a pension and am living on my Bituah Leumi benefits, which hardly gives me enough for medicine and a few groceries.”
Holocaust survivors like Tova are not the only people who depend on soup kitchens. As unemployment in Israel reaches 26%, more and more are finding themselves in a similar situation. As the coronavirus pandemic affects every class in nearly every country around the world, the ordinary work of feeding people becomes even more critical in these extraordinary times.
For The Fellowship, this crisis highlights the importance of their global bridge building between Christians and Jews – a principle etched into the foundations of the organization.