American Christians Donate $5 Million
to Help Israel's Neediest Citizens Survive the Winter

February 11, 2010

LUD, Israel (Feb. 11, 2010) — This morning Malya did not have to make the bone-chilling walk to the store from her apartment where she lives alone. Today she will not have to go to the doctor’s office, the mall, or perhaps the police station to take refuge from the cold.

At age 78, Malya would much rather stay at home, but that’s a dangerous option for her when she has no heat. For her, the choice has been either to turn on her small heater and pay the electric bill at the end of the month, or save that money to buy medicine and food. She cannot do both. And so, Malya must venture out into the cold to find somewhere, anywhere, that she can stay for a while.

Today she can stay home — and be warm.

Thanks to the support of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), in cooperation with the Israel Ministry of Welfare, Malya and more than 134,000 other elderly residents throughout Israel are receiving grants that will be applied directly to their monthly heating bill.

"It gets very cold sometimes and I don't have heat because I can't afford it," Malya said. "During the night is the worst because it gets so cold, and my windows are old and cracked, and my floors are marble. It gets colder in my small two-room apartment than it is outside."

IFCJ, headed by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, has donated $5 million to help pay the heating bills of Israel's neediest elderly citizens. The contributions from Christians throughout the United States make this critical support possible. The Warm Winter for the Elderly program is being carried out this year in collaboration with the Israeli Electric Corp., the Ministry of Social Affairs, and the Ministry of Infrastructure. Those being helped by this donation have been identified as eligible recipients in need according to The National Insurance Institute of Israel’s database.

The State of Israel partially subsidizes the electric bills of this population, yet even with this assistance the majority still cannot afford to pay the balance of their heating bill during the winter. IFCJ's donation will provide each recipient with a grant of approximately 150 shekels, or about $40, for the cold months of February and March.

Rabbi Eckstein, president and founder of IFCJ, said there is a moral imperative for society to assist its oldest and neediest citizens. "A society can be judged by the way it treats its weakest, most vulnerable members. When elderly people suffer from the cold day and night because they cannot pay their heating bills, it should pain us all."

This is the first time in Israel that a philanthropic organization has transferred its donation directly to the Electric Corp., which will deduct the sum from the personal electric bills of each eligible recipient. This method was chosen in order to preserve the dignity of recipients, and to ensure that the donations reached the recipients as quickly and efficiently as possible.

This is the fourth consecutive year for IFCJ's Warm Winter for the Elderly program. Donations from 2007 through this winter total more than $13 million and have been raised primarily from the U.S. Christian community.

"When the social worker told me that Christians in America will pay for heating my home, I broke down crying," Mayla said. "I am no longer forced to spend my days in different stores because it is too cold in my house, but am able to relax in my own home [and] appreciate the amazing gift that The Fellowship provided — the simple ability to stay warm."

For more information about the IFCJ Warm Winter for the Elderly program, go to www.ifcj.org or contact Denise Jones at denise.jones@ifcj.org or 312-641-8546.

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The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), headquartered in Chicago and Jerusalem, was founded in 1983 by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein with the vision of building bridges of cooperation between members of both faith communities and together supporting Israel and Jews in desperate need throughout the world. To date, IFCJ has raised two-thirds of a billion dollars to support programs aiding sick, elderly, orphaned and at-risk populations in Israel, the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia, India, Latin America, and Arab countries. For more information about IFCJ programs and projects, visit www.ifcj.ca.

 

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