Project Spotlight: Helping the Elderly


Credit:JDC/Arik Shraga

Sickness, poverty, and freezing winter temperatures are terrible burdens to carry. But nothing is as difficult as the extreme loneliness that many elderly go through in the former Soviet Union. Unable to afford a retirement community, no family to visit them, and no government willing to help, The Fellowship is their only line of hope.

Part of The Fellowship Family

Elena has almost completely lost her eyesight after having diabetes for 38 years. Still, she displays such warmth and friendliness that you wouldn’t know how much she suffers.

“This happened suddenly when I was at my workplace,” she explains. “I worked as a doctor. I realized that I cannot see the papers of the patients on my desk.” Born in Leningrad in 1946, Elena worked as a physician for 33 years, but was forced to retire as her illness grew worse. In the corridor along with her winter coats, she still keeps her medical whites. “This is a reminder for me of who I am,” says Elena, as she smiles sadly. She is a well-educated woman with a bright sense of humor and a lot of wisdom.

Still, her deteriorating health means she struggles with everyday tasks, like making dinner or keeping up with housework. She also struggles to afford her much-needed insulin. Without help from The Fellowship, this precious elderly woman would suffer alone. She doesn’t have any children or grandchildren, no one to care for her or hear her life story. Thankfully, Fellowship representatives visit not just to make sure her home is clean and that she has medicine and groceries, but also to hear her story and offer compassion in the last years of her life.

Whatever happens in Elena’s life, she always keeps her dignity. Since receiving care from The Fellowship, she feels less alone, and is thankful to Fellowship friends around the world who make this care possible.

Many elderly Jews are trapped in dire poverty. Learn how you can help them for the High Holy Days today.

Tags: Project Spotlight

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