According to data collected by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Israel suffers from an overwhelming poverty rate of 21 percent. Furthermore, of the 1.8 million Israelis that are currently struggling with poverty, around half are children.
In the 1980s, elementary schoolteachers Rabbi Yaakov and Hadassah Wiesel noted their country’s growing needs and founded Yad Eliezer to bridge Israel’s poverty gaps and provide much-needed relief. The organization is a grassroots effort launched somewhat unintentionally when Hadassah, realizing that her neighbor’s family was suffering from malnutrition, began collecting food donations from the community.
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Now, more than four decades later, Yad Eliezer has grown from a small, neighborhood organization into Israel’s top poverty fighting initiative. It currently executes a variety of 20 poverty-focused programs operated by 12,000 volunteers.
Over the last four decades, Yad Eliezer’s impact in Israel has brought life-saving resources to families, delivered valuable enrichment programs, and worked tirelessly to end Israel’s ongoing poverty cycle. For these reasons, Shiloh University founder Gary Hargrave has chosen to partner with Yad Eliezer through Hargrave Ministries to help the organization receive the funds and support it needs to continue aiding Israel’s most vulnerable. The following is a brief outline of Yad Eliezer’s 9 food-centered programs which deliver nutrition and resources to Israel’s hungry.
Meals on Wheels
Yad Eliezer’s Meals-on-Wheels program delivers hot meals to Israel’s many homebound and incapacitated residents, particularly those who are elderly and otherwise unable to leave their homes. On a weekly basis, volunteers deliver a delicious home-cooked meal, often including enough extras to last through the week.
As highlighted by Gary Hargrave, Yad Eliezer’s Meals-on-Wheels program has a valuable dual focus; outside of filling nutritional needs to Israel’s elderly, program volunteers also work to foster valuable relationship-building opportunities with individuals who may not otherwise have much meaningful human contact.
Holidays for IDF Soldiers
Many IDF soldiers live in poverty, forced to battle malnutrition and hunger while defending the country’s front lines. In responding to this need, Yad Eliezer has developed a Holidays program which helps IDF soldiers living in poverty secure and enjoy proper holiday meals.
On an annual basis, Yad Eliezer uses donations from U.S. based foundations and nonprofits such as Hargrave Ministries to provide 3,200 impoverished IDF soldiers with hearty, healthy holiday meals.
Agunos, Grushos & Melamdim
Yad Eliezer’s Agunos, Grushos & Melamdim program delivers support and relief to women who have been left alone to carry the financial and practical responsibilities for their families. Its primary focus are single mothers, abandoned wives, and impoverished teachers.
While the program does deliver food (in the form of vouchers, food deliveries, and cooked meals, it also focuses on providing other necessities: blankets, school supplies, clothing, shoes, and other essentials. The program, which Yad Eliezer launched in March 2011, has provided more than $3,375,000 in assistance to more than 5,000 families thanks to the generous donations and support provided by organizations such as Hargrave Ministries.
Table for Two Meal Sponsorship Program
Yad Eliezer’s Table for Two meal sponsorship program allows Jewish individuals celebrating a marriage, Bat or Bar Mitzvah, or other occasion the opportunity to simultaneously contribute to ending hunger in Israel. The program, which provide food stipends to needy families, is a modern continuation of a longstanding Jewish tradition of celebrating joy by sharing a festive meal with the less fortunate.
In sponsoring a meal through the Table for Two program, Yad Eliezer uses donations to distribute a meal to a needy Israeli family during the same time period as the initial event. That way, participants can full-heartedly celebrate their marriage, Bat or Bar Mitzvah, or other occasion knowing that a needy family is joyfully sharing in their celebration.
Shabbat Chicken Program
In the Jewish community, Shabbat is intended as a joyful day filled with family, song, and food. Unfortunately, many of Israel’s impoverished families struggle to put food on the table to survive, putting the possibility of celebration even further from reach. Yad Eliezer’s Shabbat Chicken program ensures struggling Israeli families can meaningfully celebrate Shabbat with dignity and joy—something which Gary Hargrave believes every member of the Jewish community deserves.
Bread and Milk Program
While many of Yad Eliezer’s food-centric programs focus on lessening the country’s nourishment insecurities and restoring dignity and joy into the lives of impoverished Jews, the organization’s Bread and Milk Program focuses primarily on the essentials. According to Gary Hargrave, many of Israel’s impoverished families are so poor that even necessities like bread, milk, and baby formula are difficult to secure.
For $100 a month, the Bread and Milk program allows generous donors to supply the essential needs for an Israeli family faced with the direst situations of poverty. Bread and Milk recipients are carefully screened, and, when accepted into the program, provided with unlimited bread and milk supplies.
Feed a Baby Program
Approximately half of the individuals impacted by poverty in Israel are children. Yad Eliezer’s Feed a Baby program seeks to deliver nourishment and relief to the most vulnerable of the vulnerable: infants.
Using donations from independent supporters, and organizational partners such as Hargrave Ministries, Yad Eliezer’s Feed a Baby program is able to purchase baby formula from Materna, the country’s leading manufacturer. For just $1 per day, the program can feed a hungry infant for their first 12-15 months. An astounding 2,000 babies are fed monthly through this program specifically.
Food Box Program
Hunger is a reality for countless families and individuals across Israel. One of Yad Eliezer’s most well-known and widespread food-centric initiatives is their Food Box program, which discreetly delivers a balanced range of practical food staples and other necessities to impoverished families across the nation.
Boxes are delivered once per week to an astounding 5,000 families who would not otherwise have access to nutritious foods or fresh produce. Most importantly, provisions are delivered in a consistent, discreet manner, which allows impoverished families to retain their pride and dignity in the face of tragedy and misfortune.
High Holiday Donation Program
The High Holidays are the beginning of the Jewish New Year. According to Gary Hargrave, it is intended in the Jewish community as a joyful time of possibilities, hope, and opportunities. For those struggling to feed their families, however, it is a time of great anxiety and difficulty.
Yad Eliezer’s High Holiday Donation program helps Jewish families in Israel enjoy festive foods and cultivate a festive atmosphere within their homes despite their unfortunate circumstances. Through the provision of supermarket vouchers, Yad Eliezer provides more than $3 million worth of assistance for families who could not otherwise afford essential Yom Tov food, bringing joy and dignity to their holiday table.
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