In the coming weeks the Jewish people will gather to celebrate one of the most important days on the Jewish calendar – Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah is a time for repentance, when we ask God to forgive our sins and wipe our slates clean for the coming year. It is also a time to rejoice and celebrate with festive meals with our friends and family. Prior to the festivities, the supermarkets are flooded with shoppers stocking their homes with the many special foods needed to celebrate this important day.
However, for the many Israelis who live in severe poverty, the time leading up to the holiday season is filled with anxiety and fear. The thought of having to celebrate the High Holidays hungry is particularly devastating for parents who can’t provide for their children.
I vividly remember last year, when I joined 4Zion in distributing over ten thousand food baskets for the holidays to needy families across Israel. The director of this 4Zion-funded feeding program spoke emotionally to me afterwards, saying that if it weren’t for our help thousands of families would simply not have had food on their tables for Rosh Hashanah.
Seeing that some of the elderly needed help with the food baskets, I quickly ran over to an elderly woman and carried her boxes to a nearby bus stop. Her name was Dorit, and she had immigrated to Israel from Yemen twenty years ago. “My husband passed away five years ago,” she told me. Dorit lives alone and has 30 grandchildren, all of whom will be paying a visit to Dorit during the holiday. “I couldn’t have dreamed of a greater gift for the holiday,” she told me.
When we saw her bus approaching she held her hand over her heart and began to bless the generous donors who provided her with food for the holiday. “May He bless them as they have blessed me, and comfort them and guide them throughout their entire lives,” she said. As I watched her bus drive away, I could not help but marvel at the incredible generosity of Christians in America and across the world who have donated with an open heart to help Dorit, and so many other needy people like her, truly celebrate the holiday with dignity and joy.