International Fellowship of Christians and Jews Brings Light During Hanukkah Amid Darkness of War

December 18, 2023

Just prior to the Hanukkah holiday, and as winter approaches, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) announced a series of initiatives to assist Israel’s vulnerable senior community and families, who have been hit particularly hard since the devastating terror attacks of October 7.

Some elderly Israelis have been forced to cope without their regular caregivers, who may have left the country or are unable to reach their places of residence. Travel restrictions and the massive callup of reservists to the Israel Defense forces has meant that many also go for weeks without seeing loved ones. 

The Fellowship’s $5.2 million program will provide aid and joy to 100,000 elderly and families in Israel and the former Soviet Union (FSU), including:

  • Heating vouchers for 25,700 elderly and families in Israel
  • Blankets and Emergency lighting to nearly 2,500 elderly in Israel
  • Food and medicine to more than 17,000 elderly and families in the FSU
  • Winter relief for more than 8,000 elderly and children in the FSU, including heating assistance, warm clothing, sleeping bags, and blankets
  • Hanukkah gifts and celebration events to 48,000 people, including to 10,000 families in the FSU, 8,000 elderly in the regions of Israel most affected by the war with Hamas, and 1,000 evacuees staying in temporary housing

Yael Eckstein, President and CEO of The Fellowship, said, “Even in peacetime, we know that tens of thousands of older Israelis live alone with insufficient financial support, and the war has created a truly painful situation for this community. While every Israeli feels the tension and fear, for seniors, including many who live with the traumas of past wars, these emotions are that much more challenging,” she said.

“Our commitment, this Hanukkah season and always, is to give them hope. We will show them, with dignity and fellowship, that they are not alone, and will help provide for what they will need for the cold winter months.”

For 97-year-old Holocaust survivor Merra, The Fellowship’s regular food deliveries help tremendously. “The food deliveries from the Fellowship mean that I don’t have to worry that I won’t have enough money for food,” she says. “I can buy meat, fruit and vegetables and don’t feel the lack of food like I did during my youth … Hanukkah is a holiday of miracles and light, and having a visit from The Fellowship to light candles with me reminds me of my childhood before the war.”

Since the beginning of the war, The Fellowship has been working tirelessly to fill the immediate needs of the citizens of Israel, providing emergency equipment, vehicles, shelters, and gear to better protect those on the front lines, as well as food, food vouchers, and essential supplies for those who have lost everything as they begin to rebuild.