Project Spotlight: Elderly and Fellowship Soup Kitchens

The Fellowship  |  June 25, 2019

Valentin at soup kitchen

For many of the elderly and Holocaust survivors who visit Fellowship-supported Mana Hama Soup Kitchen, this place is much more than a soup kitchen. Here they come to meet friends, feel accepted, and spend time talking and playing cards. Elderly share their remaining years with people who they relate to. For people who are in the middle of a financial crisis and can barely put food on the table, this support is life changing. Based in Ashdod, the Fellowship-supported soup kitchen offers warm meals to guests who visit in person, and also deliver meals to the homebound.

Many of the elderly who come to the Fellowship-supported soup kitchen live by themselves in small, dilapidated one-room apartments. They have no food in their refrigerators, and sadly, no visitors to talk to or share moments of life with. Also, most of them are immigrants. They are desperate to be in the company of other elderly people who speak their language and share the same background and struggles. Here, they find a community of support. Just ask Valentin.

‘I Don’t Know What I Would Do Without This Place’

Valentin hesitates to remove his oversized sunglasses despite being indoors and the only person in the Fellowship-supported Mana Hama soup kitchen wearing dark tinted shades.

His reluctance is understandable—Valentin’s right eye is scarred and sightless.

Valentin was born in Belarus. He was 7 years old when his father joined the Soviet Army to fight the invading Nazis. When the Nazi Army invaded his village, the family home was bombed. Valentin survived but was severely injured in the explosion. Shrapnel blinded his right eye. His mother dragged him to a makeshift shelter where she and a traumatized Valentin waited out the attack.

His father never returned from war, so Valentin took a job as a metal worker. He married and he and his wife settled into an impoverished life in Minsk. In 1995, they decided to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel).

Upon arrival, Valentin took a job as a street cleaner in Tel Aviv. After a lifetime of scrapping to get by, the couple now struggles even more to make ends meet. Their financial situation is dire.

At 87, he cannot work. His wife, now 82, is nearly immobile, and after a fall is in the hospital for an indefinitely. Every day for 15 years, Valentin has used what little money he has to ride the bus to Mana Hama where he eats lunch and brings home meals.

“I don’t know what we would do without this place,” says Valentin. “Thank you! You make it possible for those who are hungry to receive food. This is a wonderful place. They take care of us here.”