One in five, or about 254,000, elderly live below the poverty line in Israel. Many of these elderly are Holocaust survivors, and even more are living without any family or friends nearby.
That's why The Fellowship's With Dignity and Fellowship initiative is so important. It focuses primarily on distributing food in many different ways to the neediest elderly - Israel doesn’t have a national food program, and yet there are so many elderly who go hungry. The program provides:
• Elderly who are poor, but in good health, with a food card so they can go shopping
• Elderly who are strong enough to cook, but too weak to go shopping, with the opportunity to order food for free from The Fellowship’s virtual supermarket (which a volunteer helps them to access during a home visit)
• Bed-ridden elderly with seven ready-made meals each week
• Lonely elderly with the option to receive food and company at Fellowship-sponsored soup kitchens
In addition to providing food, With Dignity and Fellowship also ensures these individuals receive medicine and companionship. When the program launched in fall 2013, about 3,000 elderly were receiving this aid - now, about 10,000 elderly throughout Israel receive food on a weekly basis, and this number will only increase in years to come.
Mara, 98, is an elderly woman who is so thankful for this program. She is a Holocaust survivor who vividly remembers the years during her childhood when she barely had food to eat. She was born in Russia, and was forced to flee from the Nazis when she was a young girl. During World War II, she hid in a cramped apartment with 10 other people, and had just a little corner in which to sleep. There was never enough food and she was always hungry.
Today, Mara is happy to be living in Israel, but her life hasn’t been easy. She made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) at the age of 84 with only a few of her possessions, and she had a hard time learning Hebrew. She receives a small monthly stipend from the government, but it’s not enough to cover her rent, food, and medicine – and going without food brings her back to the days of the Holocaust.
Thankfully, The Fellowship has been able to provide Mara with support through our With Dignity and Fellowship program. Mara now receives a monthly food card, which allows her to go to the supermarket and buy all of the food she needs. Maybe even more important, Fellowship staff and volunteers visit Mara on a regular basis. The volunteers come to see that she is safe and that she has everything she needs.
“Before the start of the program, I was never sure if I would have enough food to eat. Now I receive a monthly Fellowship food card and I always know that I can go to the supermarket and buy all of the food I need,” she said. “I know there are good Christians and Jews around the world who care about me and who want to make sure that I'm comfortable in my final years. Thank you and God bless you.”