Ever since the inception of Tents of Mercy, humanitarian aid has been a very central part of our ministry mandate here in northern Israel. Over the last two decades with your help and God’s grace, our “reach” has increased many times over. The local city welfare department works with us hand in hand in a close, trusting partnership. They are more than happy to refer 300 needy families to us every month for ongoing aid, mainly in the form of monthly food baskets. Over the years our humanitarian aid center has also been open daily throughout the week, making quality second hand clothing and household goods available to the community.
Approximately half of the needy recipients are brand new immigrants who recently just left the Jewish exile, returning from Ukraine, France, Cuba, Argentina, Paraguay and Hungary. Many of the Ukrainians fled the war zone in their homeland, with barely the clothes on their back. French Jews are fleeing increasing anti-Semitism in larger and larger numbers.
The fall and spring Biblical festival seasons provide the opportunity to reach out more broadly – to 700 needy households, including elderly widows and new immigrant families. This September members of our congregation, together with a team of volunteers from Tennessee, labored lovingly to pack blue bags with food items, assembly line style. Then, just before Rosh Hashana, a city welfare official sat together with our Svetlana for hours on end confirming each “customer” as they received their special holiday food basket. We praise God for the privilege to offer this very practical gesture of God’s blessing into the surrounding community.
This article was originally published in Israel’s Restoration October 2015 Newsletter.