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Warming a Holocaust Survivor – Both Body and Soul

Elderly woman receives winter warmth from Yael IFCJ

When Yael Eckstein visits an elderly Holocaust survivor, she feels very blessed to give this sweet yet suffering woman the gift of winter warmth.

When Natalia, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor from Russia, opened her door to see me delivering a heating grant and warm blanket from The Fellowship, she immediately broke down crying. “I haven’t had visitors for as long as I can remember,” she said, while welcoming me into her freezing home with a big hug.

Natalia lives in a small mountain city on the northern border of Israel called Tzfat, which is one of the coldest and poorest towns in Israel. Natalia’s 40-year-old building was built with low-quality materials and is now infested with mold, and offers no insulation to keep out the freezing temperatures.

Because of the poor insulation and broken windows, Natalia’s home was colder inside than out. The only furniture Natalia owns is a torn couch, a small refrigerator, and a bed. As I sat on the couch next to Natalia and took her hand, I realized she was freezing. “My hands are like ice,” she said. “I can barely feel them anymore.” So I wrapped the Fellowship blanket I had brought with me around her, lit the heater, and thanked God for our Christian and Jewish friends in America who made this lifesaving gift possible.

As we chatted, Natalia explained that she is still haunted by the memories of World War II. “My house was burned down with my family inside,” Natalia cried to me, “and now I am in Israel alone, with nowhere to turn for help.” Natalia and thousands of other Holocaust survivors can’t afford the most basic living expenses. And Natalia, who suffers from heart disease and diabetes, must use a quarter of her monthly social security check on expensive medication to help her survive.

Desperate, Natalia cried out to God for help during this cold winter, and receiving a heating grant from The Fellowship was the answer to her prayers. Thanks to Christians and Jews in America, Natalia will survive the freezing winter months.

It was difficult leaving Natalia sitting on the couch, knowing that she would once again be alone, sad, and left with her fears, illness, and the repeated memories from the Holocaust. Sensing my reservation, she assured me she’ll be okay, and expressed her gratitude for The Fellowship and our partners around the world. “Before you came to visit me today I was alone and freezing. Your visit and The Fellowship heating aid has warmed both my body and my soul. Even after you leave, I know I’m not alone. I have friends across the sea that love me, care for me, and they are always in my heart. Thank you, Fellowship friends, for never forgetting an old woman like me.”

Tags: Crisis and Need

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More than 60 Fellowship supporters join Rabbi Eckstein and Fellowship staff on a tour of Israel, which includes visits to project areas and biblical and historic sites in the Holy Land.

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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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