I’m Shimon, CEO of Yadezer Lehaver, Israeli NPO established in 2001 and engaged in support of Holocaust survivors.
Did you now, that only 54 percent of adult around the world have heard about the Holocaust?
Did you know that most of young people around the world just have not heard about the Holocaust?
Memories about Holocaust just disappear. For me these memories are not just some abstract memories, these are personal memories of people who survived in the Holocaust, people who I help every day.
So, I’d like to ask you to participate in our project. We will prepare special books of “Hagadah” for Passover edition, which would include exclusive art work and personal Jewish receipt of Holocaust survivors.
Cost of the printing and edition is $23,800. I believe, you will enjoy reading this book.
In order to donate for this book, click this link:קרא עוד
Thousands of food parcels for Rosh Hashanah were distributed to the needy in an enormous operation by the ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ Foundation. Leading up to Rosh Hashanah 2015 the ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ Foundation launched and worked on an enormous, extensive and unprecedented operation
By: News reporter for the ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ Foundation, who joined dozens of volunteers in a special, exclusive review.
For thousands of those in need in the city of Haifa for whom there isn’t yet any food for the festival of Rosh Hashanah, it will arrive on our doorstep at the start of next week. Leading up to Rosh Hashanah 2015 the ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ Foundation launched and worked on an enormous, extensive and unprecedented operation, not something unusual in the foundation’s long tradition since the day it was founded.
The Foundation works day and night, and even a long time before Rosh Hashanah they began organizing logistically, comprehensively and extensively the packing of food parcels for families in need, Holocaust survivors, single mothers, homeless street dwellers, the elderly and others who are not able to afford to lay out the Rosh Hashanah table with food. The food parcels with an estimated value of as much as hundreds of shekels, were assembled and packaged by the foundation’s staff and by the great support of dozens of volunteers, among them soldiers, those doing their national service, residents of the foundation’s ‘Warm Home for Holocaust Survivors’, and many more. The foundation’s new social club was turned into a big operations room and warehouse many days before the festival of Rosh Hashanah and the preparations and work on packaging the many food parcels for Rosh Hashanah began.
Many days before Rosh Hashanah, the foundation’s many volunteers loaded the hundreds of food parcels onto vehicles owned by the foundation, which were then distributed from door to door straight to the homes of the families in need, who are not able to make the journey to the foundation’s village of kindness by themselves, which is situated on Kasel Street, in the neighbourhood of Hadar Hacarmel in Haifa. During the course of the day of distributing the food parcels, even soldiers from the military engineering corps unit 603 and others came to volunteer. The foundation’s volunteers also gave their support with kindness and a wide smile for the needy and the elderly, lifting the parcels and putting them into their trollies. The ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ Foundation will continue to distribute food parcels right up until the beginning of the festival of Rosh Hashanah.
The food parcels that were distributed for Rosh Hashanah contained most of the fundamental basic products for the home, such as: Oil, sugar, pasta, rice, different types of beans, boxes of canned food, coffee, tea, chicken soup, chocolate spread, honey cake for the festival, biscuits, sweets for children, etc. As well as fundamental products, a bag full of vegetables including potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, cabbage, and further varieties of different of quality vegetables, was distributed to the families.
The enormous distribution operation took place over a number of days and in different and varied times because of the strong heat and the mist that dominated the last few days in Israel; and this was so that thousands of those in need could adjust the times they came to the foundation in Kasel Street in Haifa. The packaging of the food parcels continued into the early hours of the night by the numerous volunteers who help every year during the days of the festival.
Director and founder of the foundation, Mr. Shimon Sabag, said in great excitement: “I don’t recall in over 25 years, a distributions of food parcels as big as these, and such an enormous volume as this. The foundation has distributed food parcels to the needy for Rosh Hashanah for many years so this is by no means a new thing for us, but this year the scale of the operation greatly increased. Up to now we have packed thousands of food parcels, and the demand is higher than ever. I am really surprised also this year that the number of those in need continues to rise every year. I hope with all that’s in me that here we will manage to help everyone before the beginning of Rosh Hashanah at the start of next week on this coming Sunday on the eve of the festival, that is already very close.” Mr. Sabag added, pointing out: “Beliefs need to be expressed by actions, the discourse in the subject of poverty and social gaps is not falling down from the public agenda and it’s good that that’s the case, but it’s not enough to talk, we also have to do, and do an awful lot… Rosh Hashanah is a fitting time for preparing food parcels, but the ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ Foundation works across the whole year for the benefit of those of the public who are in need and disadvantaged and specializes in support for the many Holocaust survivors, in many varied ways. The ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ Foundation will do all in its power in order to help the needy, and as such it has been a standard bearer since the day it was founded and until there is no longer one person in hunger in our country, be it child, woman or elderly person, the ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ Foundation will be here to extend a hand of aid, help and support.
At the end of his talk, Mr. Shimon Sabag requested that a big thank you be given to all of the foundation’s many workers and volunteers, who worked tirelessly in the difficult days of strong heat and heavy mist that unexpectedly fell upon our area. They provided support and put into action the sacred work of the ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ Foundation. He wished them and their family members a blessed new year, health and financial stability, and that they would always continue to realize the verse “And you shall love your neighbor as yourself”.
It is worth pointing out that many good people took part and supported the large voluntary and organized set up in the extensive operation by the ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ Foundation for Rosh Hashanah, when above all others, ruling with a strong hand with lots of kindness and smiles for all those in need was the foundation’s deputy director and lawyer Itai Svissa, as well as the foundation’s many workers and volunteers, among them the foundation’s loyal secretary Ms. Tami Sinar, the staff of the ‘Children’s Home’ that supports children in need and at risk in Neve David, Aryeh Bronstein- for many years a senior and devoted volunteer of the foundation, the foundation’s social worker Ms. Amit Eshed, the senior security guard Reuven Frizi, who has helped voluntarily for many years at all the foundation’s events and in all the operations of packing and distributing food packages for the festivals, manager of the foundation’s social club Ms. Naomi Iluz, resident of the ‘Warm Home for Holocaust Survivors’ and senior volunteer of the foundation Ms. Chavah Hershkovitz, the foundation’s doctor Arina Niemark-Alohin and her son Arkadi who helped in the initial registration on the long hot day of distributing the food parcels which was carried out exemplarily. The foundation’s volunteers Shlomi Tsarfati, Yaniv Bar and Avichai Lev, the foundation’s driver Marcelo Kibrik, the foundation’s cook Shimon Hen, and many other good people who there was not enough space to mention all of them here.
Over the course of the week many other good people came to volunteer at the ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ Foundation in order to pack food parcels, of which more and more were prepared each day following the enormous demand. This time it was players of the football club “Maccabi Neve Shanan Eldad” from the third league that came. The team vowed to stop training and the whole team came to the foundation’s village of kindness in Kasel Street in Haifa. Under the leadership of the team’s manager Mr. Eli Pisso, the professional staff and all the team’s players played their part and within a number of hours there were already more than an additional full 200 crates of food parcels ready. They packed the parcels themselves, carried them onto the players’ private vehicles, and immediately drove them straight to the doors of the hundreds of those in need across the city of Haifa. The football players were also joined by a number of border guard soldiers from the coast guard- from unit 306 under the command of Shachar and lidan, and from unit 101 under the command of Itai Chayon.
It is to be noted that at the end of the week on Friday morning, a further extensive distribution of food parcels took place for the needy that were not able to come and take food parcels during the week. In addition Radio Haifa covered the food parcels for Rosh Hashanah distribution operation during the course of the day with a live broadcast. The broadcast appeared in the program ‘Free Arena’ by Tali Liebman, Eli Levi and Yossi Mizrachi.
Extensive Photo Gallery: Joe Luciano, Adir Yeziref.
A number of days ago, two delegations arrived from abroad for an exciting visit to the foundation’s village of kindness. The delegations visited the ‘Warm Home for Holocaust Survivors’ of the ‘Yad Ezer Lechaver’ Foundation. The first delegation arrived from Germany, dozens of people from the delegation attentively.
listened to the chilling testimonies of a number of Holocaust survivors who live in the ‘Warm Home for Holocaust Survivors’. One of the most emotional things during the course of their visit was the testimony of 97 year-old Holocaust survivor, Ms. Shoshana Kolmer. The delegation was given a comprehensive overview of the foundation’s village of kindness and the ‘Warm Home for Holocaust Survivors’.
ICEJ meets some of the first tenants
On a recent visit to the new Home for Holocaust Survivors which the Christian Embassy is helping to establish in Haifa, an ICEJ AID team found workers busy putting in a new elevator and fitting rooms with a fire alarm system. Amid these important finishing touches, a handful of elderly survivors were starting to move their belongings into place, anxious to begin anew in this special assisted-living facility operated by the local Israeli charity Yad Ezer L’Haver (“Helping Hand to Friends”).
The director of “Helping Hands”, Shimon Sabag, is arranging a gala dedication ceremony for mid-September which will be attended by Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, several cabinet ministers and two dozen Members of Knesset, plus the two Chief Rabbis of Israel and many other guests. The ICEJ will be honoured at this event as the primary funding source for the home, which is being hailed as a model for assisting the thousands of destitute, ailing and lonely Holocaust survivors in Israel today.
The Hebrew and foreign media have already given the project extensive coverage and more is expected as this unique and timely project comes to completion.
Beginning in late July, some 80 residents selected from a long waiting list to live in the home will be settled into their rooms. Most have only a few meager possessions for the movers to carry, but they will come with heavy memories of past sufferings along with present weights of loneliness and layers upon layers of serious health ailments.
Still, anticipation is growing among the aging survivors, and Sara Movshowitz stops by with a few bags several weeks early to declare, “I am ready!” A widow living alone in poorly-maintained subsidized housing, she owns little beyond her clothes and some personal effects. But her emotional ‘baggage’ from the Shoah is immense.
Born in 1927 in Romania, Sara was just a teenager when World War II broke out. “It was terrible,” she recalls of the German invasion. “They kicked us out like dogs and wouldn’t allow us to take anything. We heard through loudspeakers: ‘Get out of your homes!’”
The Nazi soldiers were evil, violent men who relished frightening Jews. “Whenever we saw them we would immediately freeze and keep silent because we were scared to death of them,” Sara said. “They often beat Jews for no reason and life in the ghetto became very difficult. We saw horrific things which I will never forget.”
Today, Sara stills carries a tattooed number on her arm and she is very ill. She has water in her lungs and recently suffered a stroke. But she insists “the home will be a light at the end of the tunnel for me after all I have gone through,” as all her medical needs will be cared for by volunteer doctors and nurses from two nearby hospitals.
Micah Merom is another early arrival. For years, he has moved from one homeless shelter to another. When he heard news of the Haifa home, concerned social workers put a lot of pressure on Helping Hands to take Micah. “We were the only ones who could give him a home”, said Sabag.
Micah was born in Budapest in 1943, surviving unspeakable horrors as an infant before he could ever talk. His father was confined to a Nazi work camp, and his mother and family faced a daily struggle against starvation and disease. Micah’s early development was severely retarded, leaving deep inner scars and latent health problems.
Micah eventually moved to Israel, married, had three daughters, and became a successful businessman. But a traumatic divorce in 2003 cut off all connection with his family. He is not invited to family events, such as the bar mitzvah’s of his grandchildren. His efforts at reconciliation have been futile, and his large financial debts led to bankruptcy. Today, he still owes large sums of money and lives off a small government pension extended to qualified Holocaust survivors. He is plagued by depression, insomnia and suicidal thoughts, not to mention diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
“I feel shattered inside… Like an empty dish”, he says. “It is difficult for me to live out the day.”
But after his first night in the Haifa home, Micah was very happy to have his own room, daily meals and caring friends.
David Gitzberg, 86, is another soon arrival who suffered long from bitter cold and starvation in several ghettos and German concentration camps. “For three years I didn’t know what food was. We hardly ate and I was skinny as a skeleton. I was very weak but managed to survive, the only one left in my family.”
David came to Israel in October 1990 and today he has a wife and two sons, who both live overseas. The couple are currently fed at the Yad Ezer lunchroom and are anxiously inquiring each day about when they can take up residence.
Meantime, Ephraim Teitelbaum, 84, spent his youth as a partisan in the forests of Poland. “By then I had neither home nor family as they were all killed”, he recalls. “I had to move from place to place and was constantly fighting for my life.”
Today, he has grave heart problems and barely gets by on retirement payments. “Because I feel so alone and have undergone such difficulties in my life, I really hope I can live in the Home”, he said. “I’ll have a safe place where I can eat and sleep with contentment, something that I tried to find all my life.”
Shimon Sabag first founded a small shelter for 15 Holocaust survivors after being stunned to discover how many live in poverty. He had opened a soup kitchen in Haifa and immediately noticed how many people in line had tattooed numbers on their arms. “It gave me shivers. I always thought these people had been taken care of”, he said.
The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem partnered with Sabag in January to expand the home by purchasing and renovating a four-storey building next door. Funds are still needed to finish the project and pay some unexpected final costs.
In addition, a building with three floors on the same street has now been offered to Yad Ezer for the very reasonable price of 250,000 Euros. It could house another 50 survivors from the current waiting list of over 1,800.
The ICEJ is asking all our friends and supporters worldwide to give generously to this worthy project so that we can commit to the new building by the time of the dedication ceremony in September. The need is extremely urgent and the whole nation of Israel, from the president and prime minister down, will be there to witness this incredible expression of Christian love.
And be sure to mark it for “HOME FOR HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS”.קרא עוד