Look for the Helpers

Yael Eckstein  |  March 25, 2020

Coronavirus home delivery by The Fellowship
elderly woman, brown argyle pattern shirt, red vest, glasses, smiling, Michael Seiler, IFCJ staff, face mask, "Volunteer" sweatshirt

God’s Messengers of Hope and Love

One of my childhood heroes, Mr. Fred Rogers, once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

That perspective has served me well in the past, and I think of it now as we face this unprecedented time of uncertainty and widespread fear around the world. In any situation, no matter how scary, looking to the heartwarming stories of love and kindness is like letting light into a dark room. It helps us feel calmer, gives us perspective, and brings us hope.

Thankfully, there are so many “helpers” to be found amid the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. I call them “God’s messengers,” and God has sent us so many of them. From the healthcare workers on the frontlines, to individuals reaching out to check on those who are more isolated than others, to those who are sharing their creative gifts via the internet  – so many people are showing us that the human spirit is stronger than any virus. Even as we face extraordinary challenges, love is strong, faith is strong, and there are good people ready to help others.

Sacrifice, Dedication – and Inspiration

I feel so blessed to witness the goodness and generosity of our Fellowship staff and volunteers during these times. While children have been sent home from school, and employees have been sent home from the workplace, all of our staff has continued to work – and resourcefully figure out how to make things work – so that we can continue providing the lifesaving aid so badly needed right now. The self-sacrifice and dedication of those I have the privilege to work with is truly inspiring.

The Fellowship has always been on the frontlines of helping the vulnerable and needy. Now, we are even more so. The second this crisis hit and it became clear that Israel’s elderly were most at risk, we were ready to act. With our existing systems in place, we were able to immediately identify 30,000 of the neediest elderly in Israel and connect with them. Our staff and volunteers mobilized to create safe ways to deliver food and important items such as hand sanitizers and soap.

Caring for the Soul

However, as my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, taught me, it’s not enough to get physical aid to people. We must also provide care for the soul.

Our elderly aid recipients – all over the age of 80 – are more isolated than ever. Now, they don’t even have the occasional visit from a social worker because the risk of spreading the virus is too great. The Fellowship organized a team of volunteers to call all 30,000 elderly to check in and provide a reprieve from the loneliness. As a country of Jews from all over the world, many of these elderly don’t speak Hebrew and can’t understand the news. We recruited volunteers who speak English, Russian, Ukrainian, or French, in addition to Hebrew, so that our elderly can finally talk with someone in their native language.

This past week, I spoke with Edna, a woman in her nineties who has been receiving Fellowship assistance for years.

I check on Edna regularly, and this week was no different. When Edna picked up the phone, she started crying. She told me that with everything going on in Israel, and with people holed up in their homes, she was sure that she would not receive food as she usually does.

When a well-stocked food box did in fact arrive, she was moved to tears. As a wheelchair- bound woman with no family of her own to take care of her, the Fellowship family is all that Edna has. I am so grateful that we are able to care for her and let her know that she is not forgotten and never will be.

You Are the Helpers

None of this would be possible without you, our dear friends. The outpouring of love and generosity on behalf of Christians for the Jewish people has been incredible. Everyone has their own share of difficulties these days, and yet our supporters have proven that in times of crisis we can still remember those in need and care for them. You have prayed for the needy in Israel, you have shown concern for our most vulnerable Jews, and you have contributed what you can. We are honored to be your “boots on the ground.”

You, my friends, are the helpers in these scary times. You are God’s messengers, sharing His light of love and hope. Each food box that we deliver comes with a note saying that it was provided by Christians with love, so that the elderly in Israel know that they are cared for and never forgotten.

May God care for you as you have cared for His children, and may He provide abundant health and healing to us all.

With blessings from the Holy Land,

Yael Eckstein's Signature