Caring for a Family Handpicked by God
By: Corrie Van Maanen, ICEJ Homecare Nurse
I recently set off to visit Sveta in the early morning. Sveta lives with her extended family in a small apartment in a deprived neighborhood near Jerusalem. I have known the family since 1998, three months after they made Aliyah to Israel.
Sveta’s husband joined the many Russian Jews making their way to Israel during the 1990s. However, he struggled in Israel to support the family, which included seven children. When the couple heard that the Christian Embassy supported Russian Jews, they tentatively approached us for help. Since that day, ICEJ Homecare has been there for them in their ongoing struggles.
The family soon grew to 10 children, and for years we supported them by providing monthly groceries, paying dental bills, and purchasing bed linens, shoes, or children’s toys. They knew to call on us with urgent needs or to share good news.
“Your help has always been given with a positive encouragement and a big loving heart,” Sveta said during my visit.
Years ago, she mentioned in a moment of despair how “all social workers give up on us, but ICEJ Homecare continues to faithfully help us.” Indeed, faithfulness is a hallmark of the Homecare program because we represent a faithful God who does not give up on people.
Sveta’s husband’s parents also made Aliyah with her family. A few years later, his father died, so his mother, Maya, came to live with Sveta, her husband, and the many children still at home in their crowded, subsidized apartment. Love for each other knitted them together, and there was still room for everyone in their tiny house.
Maya had experienced the darkness of the Second World War. The Stalin regime had taken her father away, so she lived with her mother, two-year-old sister Luda, and two cousins in a small house in the north Caucasus. Maya was about 11 years old when the Germans occupied the area in 1942 and took everything they had. The Nazis continuously harassed them, frequently entering the house looking for food and checking that the family was not hiding anyone. Although Maya was still in her early teens, she was terrified the Nazi soldiers might force themselves on her. So every day, she whipped herself with nettle to make her skin look red and sickly. Like all the young girls, she shaved her head and tried to avoid the Nazis. Her family lived in constant hunger, and the children often went to the forest to find berries and edible roots. They experienced great famine through this dark period but survived and moved to Latvia after the war.
There Maya married her Jewish husband, a journalist, and they had two children. From Latvia, they made Aliyah and, like Ruth in the Bible, made her husband’s people her own, embracing life in Israel and loving every day she could watch her grandchildren being born and growing up in the Land. Now 95, she is in the last season of her life, loved by her son and beautifully cared for by her daughter-in-law, Sveta.
During our visit, I administered the nursing care Maya’s frail body needs. After work, I sat beside Sveta’s bed, and we enjoyed a cup of tea together. I then told her I wanted to share her family story with ICEJ supporters around the world, and her face began to shine.
“Tell them that I thank you that you believe in us and love us and this is not unnoticed. I thank the God of Israel from the bottom of my heart for your precious friends,” Maya said.
Dear Christian friends, this is another story of how ICEJ Homecare is there without hesitation to share our love and assistance with a family handpicked by the God of Israel, who were once in peril and uprooted by great evil but found their roots in the Jewish soil of Israel.
Show love and support for elderly Jews in need of care by donating to support ICEJ Homecare.