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Passover gift baskets bring tears of Joy!

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14 Apr 2022
Passover gift baskets bring tears of Joy!

As the ICEJ AID team has made their way across Israel over recent weeks delivering Passover gifts to hundreds of Jewish families living in poverty, they have encountered overwhelming needs among all ages in the communities they have visited.

Many of these people were already living below the poverty line before the Coronavirus pandemic struck Israel two years ago. Some also lost their meager incomes due to the many prolonged lockdowns Israel endured since then, pushing them into further economic hardship.

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is working closely with local Israeli social workers to identify those hardest hit by the pandemic, so our assistance will enable them to enjoy an extra special Passover celebration this year.

This year we focused on gift vouchers to buy food, as this is the greatest need for most of these struggling families. However, in addition each food voucher was accompanied by Pesach cookies and a set of hand towels, as well as a beautiful Passover greeting card. The card expresses warm holiday wishes from Christians around the world.

During their visit to Beit Shean, our AID team received many compliments on the thoughtfulness of bringing Passover cookies and towels along with the gift card. Shoshana, a social worker in Jerusalem, added that every year people look forward to receiving these Passover gifts.

In the coastal town of Netanya, ICEJ AID assistant Jannie Tolhoek was met by local social workers Yehilla and Heidi, who were overjoyed to receive the Passover gifts for their local families.

“I must admit that I am very touched by the truly significant work that you do,” said Yehilla. “Thank you for your assistance and support of Netanya’s welfare families. May you be blessed with many more years of giving.”

“Thank you so much for all the work you do and for dedicating yourselves to the people in Israel, to give them hope and a brighter future. You are a real example and inspiration,” added Heidi.

Meanwhile in Jerusalem, a local Ethiopian pastor gratefully collected Passover gifts from ICEJ for distribution to needy members of his community.

Before a general distribution in Kiryat Gat, the AID team visited some individual homes to hand over Passover gifts. When they visited Tsakol, who is hearing impaired and living alone, he could not hold back the tears, which gently rolled down his cheeks. He has experienced much pain in his life and their visit brightened his day!

“Even though our visit was short with a small gift, we hope that it will remind him that he is not forgotten” remarked Jannie.

As they moved on to the next home, they found Irafu, a single mother with five daughters. Two are serving in the IDF, the next two are in high school, and her youngest is eight years old. She explained how she has been working many long hours as a cleaner over the years to support her family. However, due to health difficulties she could not keep up the pace any longer. The team also learned that she had recently returned from a visit to Ethiopia to receive medical treatment.

Despite her situation, Irafu was joyful and happy to offer her hospitality to the AID team with a pot of Ethiopian coffee. Recognizing Jannie from a prior visit, she also was quick to express her faith that God is with her.

“Your greatness and strength have helped me in the past and now you are here again,” said Irafu. “You helped me then with a gift voucher and a beautiful greeting card. You have not forgotten me. It shows that you care for me, and it brings me joy for the holidays. Thank you for your kindness to me and my girls.”

“One could sense that, despite the difficulties, there is a lot of laughter, joy and hope in this home,” Jannie commented afterwards.

There was much excitement in the air when Jannie later arrived at a community center in Kiryat Gat for the general Passover distribution to dozens of needy families. Ethiopian ladies happily helped the AID team carry items from the car into the venue where everyone was waiting. Community leader Avraham Abouya welcomed everyone and explained the long connection he has had with the ICEJ, which he considers part of the “family.” Jannie responded that, indeed, the ICEJ has been helping the Ethiopian Jewish community in Kiryat Gat for 26 years now.

As the holiday gifts were handed out, Avraham explained to the community that their holiday gift came from Christian friends all around the world who care for them and wish them a ‘Happy Passover.’

“Thank you, ICEJ, for reaching out again this year to the Ethiopian community in Kiryat Gat. Without your dedication and faithful support, Pesach is not the same. We hope to see you again next year,” Avraham assured.

Before long, the ICEJ AID vehicle was laden with Passover gift packages again and headed south to rendezvous with eagerly waiting Israeli social workers in Ashdod and Sderot. Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for AID & Aliyah, was grateful for the many hands ready to help her unload the vehicle!

Speaking with the social workers, she heard how the local needs have increased this year and the difference these holiday gifts from the Christian Embassy will make for many families. This Passover, social welfare departments are especially strained as they are also having to look for help for the many Ukrainian immigrants arriving in their cities with next to nothing on the eve of the holiday.

“It is such a privilege for us to extend love and comfort by giving these Passover gifts. May these families truly feel the warmth and love of Christians as they celebrate this special Pesach holiday,” remarked Nicole as she handed over the gift packages to the social workers for the respective families under their care.

Only with your generous giving can we help these Jewish families have a blessed and wonderful Passover celebration, turning their tears into gladness!  

 

 

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