The Fellowship’s Ami Farkas recently made a project visit to the Fellowship-supported Yad LaKashish (meaning “lifeline for the elderly”) program, which allows the elderly in Israel to stay engaged by teaching them how to make handcrafted items to sell to the community. But, more importantly, the program provides daily hot meals and a small stipend for the crafts made, providing a lifeline of support to Israel’s poor, elderly immigrant population.
Ami had the privilege of learning more about Miriam and learning about her life story:
Every morning, right when Miriam wakes up, she thanks God for another day in Jerusalem, where Jews live without the fear of anti-Semitism. Miriam, 72, a Russian immigrant, remembers when she was tormented for being a Jew as a child. Today, she lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment in Israel, and though she lives a modest life, with little food in her refrigerator, she still feels blessed for her freedom in the Holy Land.
Born after WWII, Miriam’s parents always told her how lucky she was to have been born after the Holocaust. Yet anti-Semitic attitudes still lingered after the war.
“Russia was not a kind place for Jews,” Miriam said. “I remember being chased down the street while being called ‘Jew, Jew.’” Nonetheless, like other Jews living in Stalinist Russia, Miriam thrived despite these obstacles.
After completing a degree in art, Miriam found work as a production designer on a Russian television channel. She eventually married. Though she experienced much of what life had to offer in Russia, she always imagined what it would be like to live proudly as a Jew in Israel.
In 1993, a friend of Miriam’s made aliyah (immigrated to Israel). This inspired and pushed Miriam to make aliyah as well, and she finally fulfilled a long-held dream.
Miriam found a job in Israel as a kindergarten aide. Never having children herself, Miriam loved spending time with her students. Then Miriam got older and couldn’t keep up with the fast-paced environment of watching over young kids, so she retired.
Needing something to do every day to keep her spirits up, and to feel that she still contributes to society, Miriam joined the Fellowship-funded Yad LaKashish program.
Every morning, around 300 elderly people come to this remarkable Fellowship-funded program, where they are offered the opportunity to work in several different workshops, including bookbindery, ceramics, metal work, silk, and textiles. Then they sell their finished products to the community.
In addition to the work, there is also a hot lunch provided daily for the elderly, many of whom cannot cook or do not have the food available at home to prepare a hot meal every day.
Having a background in the arts, Miriam chose ceramics, and she earns on average 540 shekels [about $150 USD] a month, helping her get by.
This amazing project gives life to the elderly. It fills them with a sense of purpose, belonging, and self-worth, while also gathering a vibrant community of seniors who are able to give back to society during their golden years.
The Fellowship feels blessed for having the opportunity to support and care for Israel’s elderly community, and we feel much gratitude toward our donors, who enable us to fulfill this holy mission.