Can You Imagine Being Ashamed to Host Your Family and Friends?

 (photo credit: TENUFA BAKEHILA)
(photo credit: TENUFA BAKEHILA)
An urgent call for help came in to our hotline, from an older couple with severely damaged, rotting kitchen cabinets.  
During the trip to their home in Ashkelon, images of the kitchen they described floated through my mind. Even before entering the house, I had a pretty good idea of what I would find there. But the truth is that nothing I imagined came close to preparing me for what I saw when I entered their home.
An elderly couple in their late 70s, of Ethiopian origin, was there. The father of the family told me their story in broken Hebrew while his wife prepared the traditional Ethiopian “Buna” coffee ceremony.
Since immigrating to Israel, they have lived in the same apartment, but never had the means to make even the most crucial repairs. When their kitchen pipes started leaking, they tried to repair by themselves whatever they could, but the cabinets in the kitchen rotted and eventually crumbled completely. They had no choice but to remove some of the cabinets altogether. The countertop remained suspended in midair with nothing supporting it. In time, it simply collapsed and crashed onto the kitchen floor.
Seeing their kitchen in shambles just broke my heart. With a sense of humiliation and shame in their voices, the family told me that the most difficult aspect of their situation is that they have stopped hosting their family and friends. How sad that an elderly couple, with deteriorating health, is living in an unsafe and decrepit home.
As soon as I returned to my office in Gush Etzion, I shared the story of that lovely couple, whose story touched me that day. Gabi Nachmani, the founder and director of Tenufa Bakehila, reacted with words that remain etched in my heart: "Our grandfathers and grandmothers are the anchors of our families! They connect us to the treasures of our past – to our traditions and culture. Our mission is to restore their dignity and pride in their home."
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Before the renovation, photo credit: Tenufa BakehilaBefore the renovation, photo credit: Tenufa Bakehila
Before the renovation, photo credit: Tenufa BakehilaBefore the renovation, photo credit: Tenufa Bakehila
Before the renovation, photo credit: Tenufa BakehilaBefore the renovation, photo credit: Tenufa Bakehila
After convening a meeting with Tenufa Bakehila’s staff, our team set out for a few intensive days of renovation. They installed a completely new kitchen designed to meet the needs of the family. The family was so overwhelmed, they literally cried. With a shaking voice, the mother said to me: "Now I can finally host my family again. Thanks to you."

We arranged food baskets for them that arrive on their doorstep once a week and connected them with other service organizations that can provide the ongoing help they need and deserve.
After the renovation, photo credit: Tenufa BakehilaAfter the renovation, photo credit: Tenufa Bakehila
As a social worker at Tenufa Bakehila, I hear stories of deserving families like this one, every single day.
This family is one of hundreds of families whose lives we are helping to rebuild every year.
Our teams of skilled repair and renovation specialists and social workers at Tenufa have assisted more than 5,500 families in 14 cities across Israel. Our vision is to eradicate the worst cases of housing poverty across Israel.
Renovating the homes of welfare families and providing social advocacy is how we are rebuilding lives, every single day.
We invite you to take part in our special Rosh Hashana campaign, benefiting poverty-stricken families across Israel. Contribute to Tenufa's campaign on Sept. 8-10 and you will be helping us reach 500 more families like this one every year.