New hotline established for people in distress

IFCJ to provide help in five languages, field 10,000 calls a month.

Phone Call, operator  (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Phone Call, operator
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
From the moment the IFCJ opened its hotline in the Talpiot neighborhood in Jerusalem, the phones have not stopped ringing.
The calls flow in one after another, from people living under the most difficult socioeconomic conditions possible.
Others are suffering from severe trauma, like the woman from northern Israel whose twins died at birth 40 years ago.
She still walks around daily with the feeling that the staff at the hospital didn’t tell her everything.
“We established the Fellowship Hotline in an effort to help anyone in Israel who is in distress,” says Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president of the Fellowship.
“It’s important that all Israeli citizens know that they never have to be alone, that there will always be someone to listen to them and try to help them. They shouldn’t feel despair. The Fellowship Hotline can connect people with hundreds and even thousands of Israeli charity organizations, many of which the public have never even heard of.”
There are currently 22 social service providers who speak Hebrew, English, Russian, Arabic or Amharic. There are men and women, religious and secular, Jews and Arabs, ranging in age from 23 to 60.
All of them have undergone extensive training, and come from a variety of professional backgrounds.
Roni Lior, manager of the Fellowship Hotline, compared it to Waze.
“We help people navigate their way through the maze of Israeli non-profits, including of course all the services offered by the Fellowship.”
The hotline offers two levels of service: The first deals with the lion’s share of calls coming into the center, in which service providers will write down the details of each situation and then refer the callers to the relevant organization that can help them.
The second level of service will offer more hands-on and extended help to callers who need a little more attention or direction.
“In the first scenario, a caller will simply be referred to another nonprofit and given the contact information, hours, name of contact person,” said Lior. “Together they will review the criteria required to receive benefits so that a caller will know if he’s eligible before even he makes the first call.”
The second scenario takes place when a caller is not capable of carrying on with the second step without assistance.
These individuals are usually elderly, Holocaust survivors, immigrants who lack fluency in Hebrew, or people with social hardships.
“In these cases, we act as a conduit of information – at the caller’s request only, of course – so that the organization can open a case file and begin taking care of the individual directly,” Lior said.
Yael Amar, in charge of the hotline’s professional translation department, has firsthand knowledge of the huge number of non-governmental charity organizations that exist in Israel.
“More than 10,000 social organizations offer support to needy people in Israel,” says Amar.
“And yet nevertheless many people are not always aware that these organizations even exist. Of course, most of these non-profits lack advertising budgets; and how is an elderly person supposed to look up information about them on the Internet if he doesn’t even own a computer?” The Fellowship Hotline is currently constructing a database that will include hundreds of non-governmental charities. By September, it aims to be capable of fielding 10,000 calls a month.
The hotline can be reached at *9779, at [email protected] ifcj.org.il, or on Facebook at Moked Hayedidut.
Translated by Hannah Hochner