Flickers Of Inspiration Accompany ICEJ’s Passover Deliveries

By Laurina Driesse

It is a beautiful day, the sun is shining, and the birds are tweeting, but for many Israeli families struck by the harsh economic challenges of the coronavirus, the sky may seem a little duller. As the countdown to Passover begins, many of these families are wondering how they will be able to celebrate this special holiday.

Partnering with local Israeli social workers, the ICEJ AID team has been travelling around Israel over recent days bringing a ray of hope, as they distribute Passover food packages and gift vouchers to needy Jewish families. Locating some homes is difficult, as many of the buildings are not properly numbered. One single mother was so astounded by the visit and gifts that she called the AID team “angels”.

Encountering personal stories of hardship on each visit, ICEJ Aid assistant Jannie Tolhoek recounts a beautiful interaction with Sarit, a music teacher who is currently out of work. Sarit also is the mother of four children ages six to twelve. Just over two years ago, they immigrated to Israel for their safety after the end of an abusive marriage.

“You were sent from above to encourage me today, and to show me that I am seen and not forgotten. Today you bring a smile that impacts me deeply”, said Sarit as she received her gifts. In trying to find a new path forward for her family, she wants to encourage other women to continue living and to empower them. With remarkable faith, Sarit went on to share: “If I can manage, others can too. God gives me friends, a place to live, and I am thankful for those who cross my path, like you today.”

In Kiryat Gat, Jannie and ICEJ staff member Tricia Neighbors offered encouragement along with a Passover gift to Fanny, a mother of six children. Her eldest are twins who are both married, while the other four are ages 11 to 17 and still living at home. Reflecting on the visit, Jannie noted that Fanny was “so desperate for company, she began pouring out her heart to total strangers – telling us that for many years she didn’t think that she was worth anything and that she still suffers from low self-esteem.”

Wanting to reassure her, Jannie told Fanny: “You are strong because of your faith and beautiful because of your inner joy which we can see reflected outwardly.”

Fanny loves working as a cleaning lady and takes great pride in her own home, ensuring that it is spotless for Passover.

Tricia recounted: “Although grateful for the Passover gifts, one could tell that our very visit was just as important to Fanny, and we left her knowing that she was encouraged and smiling.”

Meanwhile, Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President of AID and Aliyah, measured 14,866 steps on her health app as she delivered food and gift boxes to Ethiopian Jewish families in Ma’ale Adumin – most of whom live in 3rd and 4th floor apartments without an elevator. In recognition of the foods they especially enjoy, their packages included Ethiopian coffee and other products like flax, dried corn, lentils and more.

“For me, the real star of the day was Da’ud, a wonderful man who assisted in carrying the heavy boxes up all those stairs!” Nicole noted afterwards. “The appreciation was evident when the families received the Passover gifts, and we received many blessings in return. One dear lady who could hardly speak Hebrew offered us a very welcome glass of water as well.” 

Without your generous giving, it would not be possible to help so many struggling families to celebrate Passover with joy. Thank you for giving to ensure they have a beautiful Passover Seder meal. 

BONUS: Here are a couple video clips from our recent Passover holiday gifts distribution across Israel.

Israeli Prison service staff assist the Haifa home in packing Passover packages for survivors and those in need: