The Broadway show Cabaret had a song called, “Money Makes The World Go ’Round,” and as I look at the behavior of people when the Powerball Lottery offers the chance that someone can make hundreds of millions of dollars makes me think this is a very widely held belief
Recently we received a good deal of money, which we distributed for humanitarian relief. I called our Eastern Europe coordinator and asked the best places to put the funds. He suggested several places in addition to the usual money we send: We sent a large chunk of it to aid poor Jews in Armenia, and a second large chunk to help poor Jews in Russian Georgia, in the Caucus Mountains. A third part went to help Jews in Moscow. We also sent extra funds to Israel to aid elderly Jews living in Sederot in Israel, near Gaza, who are bombarded almost daily with rocket attacks. I have to admit, I felt really good sending that money, over and above what we usually send. If we had more money on a regular basis, we could do so much good with it.
I want to thank all of you who support our work and make such blessings to these very poor Jews possible. We are committed to helping the poor of Israel, whether in the Land, or outside of it. It is a prophetic act to help Israel’s poor. Proverbs 29:7 says, “The righteous considers the cause of the poor, [But] the wicked does not understand [such] knowledge.” For many to help these poor of the Jewish people, it is a sacrificial act, but the Scriptures call it righteousness. I would be grateful if you could consider a generous gift so we can help these poorest of the Jewish people more often.
News From Afar
Recently, I returned from a trip to Crimea, a peninsula of Ukraine on the Black Sea. We visited many poor Jews there. The first day, when we arrived, we visited an asylum for handicapped people. We met with a half a dozen Jews there. They live in horrible conditions, and I gave them a word of encouragement as well as distributed humanitarian parcels. When you visit the poor, you cannot come empty handed. They appreciated the parcels, but just the fact that we came to see them meant so much to them.
We also visited the Jewish poor. The poverty was unimaginable by our standards. Many of the homes had no running water, which meant no toilet facilities. One family, who were lucky enough to have water in their apartment, had their toilet in the kitchen. When we visited each home, we were sure to bring food parcels, because when you visit hungry people, it’s not enough to just give them a hug.
They told me story after story. A widow told me of her son who moved to Israel. He was going to come back for her, but three days before he was scheduled to return, he died when he stepped on a land mine. Now she is alone and without hope.
Another elderly couple live in a shack and we provide food to them. He volunteers his time working with orphans, being himself an orphan. They attend our services when they can get a ride into town.
Our worker in Crimea is missing several teeth. The work to fix his teeth would be very expensive so he forgoes the work so he can help the people he works with.
When we arrived, they cried because no one had come to help them in the years they had been working. I plan on returning this fall. Your support for our work there blesses the people more than I can write.
On a recent trip to Israel, we visited with our workers in Sederot, an Israeli city adjacent to the Gaza Strip. It is bombed nearly every day. Our workers seemed shell-shocked, and with good reason, but they continue to labor there, keeping our distribution center open, feeding the Israeli poor; elderly, holocaust survivors, as well as single mothers and widows. He said the money we send keeps the lights on, the rent paid on the distribution center, and the shelves stocked for a month. The following is from a recent report from Sederot:
From the passer-by, the tourist on vacation that happens to drive through Sederot or even comes to see what Sederot is like, they will see what looks to be a normal, peaceful, quiet little town. People sitting outside at the coffee bar or falafel stand and will leave with no idea that 25 percent of the people here do not have enough money to pay the bills or to even put food on the table.
They would not see the people who work sixty hours a week for minimum wage and who still cannot make ends meet. They would not see the elderly gentleman going from one trash bin to the next hoping to find a glass bottle or an aluminum can, nor would they see them picking up any scrap metal they can find to help make ends meet. From the outside everything looks wonderful, and yet people still stop us on the street asking for help, hoping we will have enough food to put them on our list. When the man from the electric company is standing at their door ready to cut the power, they call us asking for help. When someone dies in a family and they don’t have enough money or food for the memorial, they call us asking for help. Or when they have but a few hours to come up with back rent before they are evicted, they come to us in hope.
We have become an established, vital part of the community, giving hope when all is gone. The reason we can help is because you our supporters have a tender heart for us here in Sderot. Things have not gotten better—if anything, they have gotten worse. You won’t see the single mom when she comes in to pick up diapers, or the son who comes in to pick up adult diapers and matters protectors and wet wipes. You won’t see the smile on the elderly lady as we deliver her cooked food for Shabbat or the families to whom we bring groceries Friday morning so they can prepare it for Shabbat.”
We would like to send more money each month, both to Sederot as well as to Crimea, but without more money coming in, there is not much more we can do. I ask that you would prayerfully consider making a generous donation to help us fund our life-sustaining work in these places. You can designate your funds to go to these places, or let us put it where it is needed the most.
We are grateful for your generous and kind support of our work. When I see these places and people, and what our funds can accomplish, I can’t adequately express how appreciative I am for your help. Without you, we could not continue to feed the Jewish poor.The Torah says in Deuteronomy 15:11, “For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’”
Dr. Michael Schiffman,