Faces of The Fellowship: Sofia

The Fellowship  |  September 30, 2020

IFCJ staff member helping Yasmin Kalfa unpack her food box.
Yasmin Kalfa, field coordinator in the Be'er Sheva region, bringing Rosh Hashanah food box to Sofia Neiman. Elderly woman sitting on chair, black and blue dress, unpacking food box, IFCJ staff, white shirt, face mask, jar of honey

When World War II broke out, Sofia and her family barely escaped from Moscow with only the clothes on their backs. They traveled in a filthy cattle car for four long months to reach the Ural Mountains.

On the way, this vulnerable little girl witnessed things too horrific to describe… tragedies no child should ever see.

When Sofia’s family finally reached the mountains, they discovered a cabbage plant growing beside their tiny shelter. It was so precious to them, and food was so rare, they took turns guarding the single head of cabbage at night — until it was stolen… and Sofia felt like all hope was lost.

After suffering years of poverty, hunger and illness, Sofia’s family were eventually able to return home to Moscow. But anti-Semitism made life there unbearable. No matter what happened, Sofia’s Jewish identity was used against her.

Even though she eventually made aliyah (immigrated) and enjoyed a much better life in Israel, she tragically lost her eyesight. Now a blind, elderly woman, Sofia is completely isolated — even during the High Holy Days.

“I’m alone on every holiday,” she says. “Holidays bring me nothing but loneliness.”

But then The Fellowship stepped in. With your help, this precious woman was able to receive a holiday food box to brighten up her home and lift her spirits this Jewish New Year.

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