Slava is a 58-year-old immigrant from Odessa, Ukraine. He lives with his disabled wife in Ashdod. Each day Slava comes to the Mana Hama soup kitchen, where he fills two large plastic containers with lunch and dinner for himself and his wife.
"I never thought that I would need to rely on the blessings of Christians in order to eat. But that's the situation," Slava says. "I'm partially disabled and my wife is completely disabled. She can't leave the apartment or cook. With all of our expenses, we would never be able to finish out the month on our own. It's thanks to Rabbi Eckstein and good Christians that we never have to worry about food."
Slava and his wife came to Israel with their two grown sons in 1994. "It's because of God that my family is here. I thank him each day when I say the Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One prayer.
In the Ukraine, Slava worked as an electrical engineer in a factory. "We had everything we needed from a material point of view. But you can feel the anti-Semitism in the Ukraine. Everyone knows you're Jewish and they hold it against you. Your identity card is marked Jewish, and that prevents you from reaching a certain status in society," Slava explains. "When we came to Israel, our identity cards were also marked Jewish, only in Israel it's a mark of pride. It's interesting how the exact same act can take on a different meaning depending on where it's performed. That's why Israel is so important to the Jewish people."
When Slava arrived in Israel at age 44, he realized that his age and lack of fluency in Hebrew meant he would need to retrain in order to earn a living. "I took a course and got a license as a truck driver. I worked for ten years until I broke some vertebrae when I fell from the truck."
Once Slava realized that he wouldn't be able to work again, he began to panic. "I was only 56 years old and I didn't know how I was going to manage. I can't do physical labor." Both of his sons are teachers, but Slava explains that school teachers aren't paid very well in Israel. "And they each have their own families to take care of."
It was through some neighbors that Slava learned about the Mana Hama soup kitchen. "This is the only place of its kind in our neighborhood. I don't know what I'd do without it.
"Thank God that Rabbi Eckstein and The Fellowship's donors understand how important Mana Hama is to the residents of this neighborhood. All of the people who come here are old, disabled, or poor. We all subsist on National Insurance, and we have nowhere else to turn. It's such a blessing that Christians in America care about us and make sure that we get everything we need. Please continue contributing to Mana Hama. We rely on your kindness."