February 2, 2010
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), headed by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, is donating NIS 20 million (approximately $5 million) to pay the heating bills of 134,000 elderly people in need throughout Israel, ensuring that they will have a warm and safe winter.
This is the first time in Israel that a philanthropic organization is transferring its donation directly to the Electric Corp., which will deduct the sum from personal electric bills of eligible recipients. This method was chosen in order to preserve the dignity of recipients, and to ensure that the donations reach recipients as quickly and efficiently as possible.
"Warm Winter for the Elderly" is carried out in collaboration with the Israeli Electric Corp., the Ministry of Social Affairs, and the Ministry of Infrastructure, and is provided to all the 134,000 elderly Israelis who are defined as "in need" according to The National Insurance Institute of Israel data base.
The State of Israel partially subsidizes the electric bills of this population, yet even with this assistance the majority still cannot afford to pay the remaining heating bill during the winter. In order to keep them safe and warm, the IFCJ will provide each home with a donation of NIS150 (approx. $40) for the cold months of February and March.
According to Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president and founder of the IFCJ, "A society should be judged by the way it treats its weak members. A moral society which prides itself on its Jewish values must help the elderly and treat them with respect, dignity, and generosity. When elderly people suffer from the cold day and night because they cannot pay their heating bills, it hurts us all." Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog said, "It is important to help the elderly cope with the cold winter. The Ministry of Social Affairs dedicates many efforts to strengthening the welfare mechanisms for the elderly and ensuring their well-being. This initiative is part of a set of efforts by the ministry to improve the lives of the elderly in Israel. I thank Rabbi Eckstein and the IFCJ for this important contribution and hope that this collaboration will produce similar valuable initiatives in the future."
This is the fourth year in a row for IFCJ's "Warm Winter for the Elderly" program. In past years, donations were provided through The Union of Local Authorities. Between 2007 and 2009 the IFCJ donated about NIS 33 million ($8,250,000) for heating for the elderly.