Yonatan and Chava are ultra-Orthodox Jews living in a poor neighborhood in Ashdod. They have four children ranging in age from three to nine.
Yonatan was brought up in a poor neighborhood in Ashdod, where he went through the religious educational system. "Learning Torah and having a family is of utmost importance in the community," he explains. "When I first got married, I received a small stipend for learning in the yeshiva [Jewish religious college]. After our second child was born, it became clear that the stipend wasn't adequate to cover our family's needs."
Finally, Yonatan left the yeshiva and found a job. "At first I went to college to learn computers," he recalls. "But I didn't succeed and I never earned a certificate. I realized that I needed to do any type of work I could find. I've worked as a dishwasher and as a cleaner. But the financial situation in Ashdod is bad. There's just no work."
Chava also grew up in an ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem. For the first six years of their marriage, Chava worked as a kindergarten teacher. Unfortunately, Chava has health problems and she can no longer work.
The family's income currently consists of Chava's disability benefits of $950 per month. "Our three oldest children are in school. We have to pay a monthly fee for each of them. That doesn't even include the cost of books or outings," she explains. "We pay $500 a month rent for this small, broken-down apartment in a frightening neighborhood. There are a lot of drugs and there is a lot of crime. We do our best to shield our children from this. We also have to pay for utilities and health care. We simply have no money for food."
"Thank God that Rabbi Eckstein and The Fellowship's donors support Mana Hama. In addition to the food we get every day, they've also given us money to buy furniture."
When the Mana Hama soup kitchen moved to its current location, it was closed for a week. "It was the worst week of my life," Yontan remembers. "My children asked me why we didn't have regular food. I had no answer for them. I cried inside.
"Rabbi Eckstein and The Fellowship's donors are saints. We're embarrassed to go to the soup kitchen, so every day we receive a delivery of meat, vegetables, jams, and fruit. We're so grateful that everything is done quietly and with dignity. An unmarked car arrives and the food is placed outside our door. You are saving our lives, and I know we're not the only ones. May God bless you in return for your goodness and generosity."