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Like Seeing a Lost Family Member for the First Time

Yechiel and Yael Eckstein serving food at soup kitchen (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi)

Writing at The Jerusalem Post, Yael talks about The Fellowship's soup kitchens and their caring volunteers who not only serve hot and healthy food to Israel's poor and elderly, but never turn a blind eye to those like Chana:

I met her two months ago, but still can’t get her out of my heart.

It was in Jerusalem, the holiest city in the world, in a International Fellowship of Christians and Jews-sponsored soup kitchen packed to the limits with people of all ages and backgrounds. The truth is, I loved each of the people standing in that room. I hugged the adorable child with black curly hair and offered her a baguette, smiled at the homeless man as I placed a large spoonful of roasted vegetables on his plate, and helped the old woman with a walker carry her plate to the table.

But then Chana walked in, and immediately my heart connected to hers. It was like going to one of my daughter’s gymnastics shows – although there are dozens of cute children performing, the only one I really see is my beloved child.

When Chana walked in, to me she looked like an angel. I immediately loved her and felt a deep connection; it was like I was seeing a long-lost family member for the first time. She was holding on to the wall, limping, and had lines on her face which showed the hardships she has endured, but just by looking at her I could tell her mind was as sharp as can be. She had black hair covered with a scarf, green eyes, shaky legs, and was beautiful.

I asked another volunteer to take over serving the food to the long line of people waiting, and like a magnet, gravitated straight to Chana.

“Shalom,” I said to her, placing my hand on her shoulder.

“Shalom,” she said, with a warm yet exhausted smile, as she took my hand in hers.

Chana used my arm for balance as we went to sit at the closest table.

“Where did you come from?” I asked.

“Talpiot,” she said, as she took a napkin and wiped the sweat from her forehead with a shaking hand.

That answer shocked me – Talpiot is an hour-long bus ride from the center of Jerusalem where we were sitting.

“Why did you come all the way here?” I asked.

And after a moment of silence, Chana looked at the line of people waiting for a warm meal, and said, “Because I have to eat...”

Tags: IFCJ

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The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) funds humanitarian aid to the needy in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world, promotes prayer and advocacy on behalf of the Jewish state, and provides resources that help build bridges of understanding between Christians and Jews.

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