Christian support for Israel soars ahead of the High Holy Days
September 3, 2021
JERUSALEM — The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) is launching a $10.9 million aid program to help over 260,000 people in Israel and the former Soviet Union during Rosh Hashanah and the High Holy Days. This is the largest program The Fellowship has ever launched for Rosh Hashanah and is more than double its program in 2020.
The aid, which includes food boxes and grocery cards to single-parent families, elderly citizens, and disabled veterans, comes as Israel weathers its fourth wave of coronavirus cases. “The coronavirus pandemic has created an economic crisis that we will be dealing with for years,” said Yael Eckstein, President and CEO of The Fellowship.
“In light of the uncertainty during this period, The Fellowship has significantly increased our budget. We are grateful to the hundreds of thousands of Fellowship donors who, despite the global crisis, are mobilizing to help the people of Israel and Jews in distress around the world.”
The pandemic disproportionately affected the physical health of elderly populations, but it continues to affect their mental health: “In Israel, like in many other nations, our elderly are also suffering from another disease: loneliness,” said Eckstein. “My faith teaches me to honor my parents and my elders, and that means providing above and beyond basic needs.”
According to a survey commissioned by The Fellowship and conducted by the Geocartography Knowledge Group, not only will most elderly citizens (76%) reduce spending on groceries for the High Holy Days, about a tenth of them are very afraid that they will celebrate the holidays alone.
Continuing a program started in 2020, The Fellowship is distributing 7,000 jars of honey to elderly Jews, with the honey symbolizing a “sweet new year” during the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah. The Fellowship is also setting up kiosks throughout the country offering free jars of honey for passersby to give to elderly friends and neighbors.
Children have also not escaped the economic fallout of the pandemic. According to the Geocartography Knowledge Group survey, over half (54%) of low-income households cannot afford school supplies. To address the economic disparity among Israel’s children, The Fellowship is donating backpacks full of school supplies to 900 children: “We want all of Israel’s children to start the new year with hope and help,” concluded Eckstein.
During the first half of 2021, The Fellowship has provided basic needs to 500,000 people, including 277,000 children and families and 131,000 elderly and Holocaust survivors in Israel and the former Soviet Union.