“That is why village Yehudim, who live in unwalled towns, observe the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and make it a day of merrymaking and feasting, and as a holiday and an occasion for sending gifts to one another.” Esther 9:19 (The Israel Bible™)
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) is sponsoring Purim festivities for 2,200 elderly Jews in Israel many of whom are Holocaust survivors who would be spending the celebratory holiday alone without such activities.
The IFCJ, under the direction of its founder, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein has dubbed the project, “Marbim B’Yedidut”(“Increasing Friendship”).
Over 900 volunteers will attend Purim parties in pensioners’ clubs, assisted living facilities, and private houses of homebound Israelis as part of the project that seeks to enrich the lives of elderly Israelis and reduce loneliness in their golden years.
“Loneliness and social inactivity are among the most distressing challenges that elderly folks face,” Rabbi Eckstein said in a statement. “Sometimes, it can even be worse than remaining financially afloat during this period, another serious challenge that mars what is meant to be their golden years.”
“It’s important to us that Israel’s elderly should be part of the great simchah (happiness), the elation, that characterizes the festival of Purim.”
Yael Eckstein, global executive vice president of the Fellowship, stressed that despite the joyous nature of Purim, the need of the elderly for such a campaign is ever present.
“On Purim, it is a mitzvah (Torah commandment) to be happy but over the holidays, the elderly suffer terribly from loneliness,” Eckstein told Breaking Israel News.
“This is especially true of Holocaust survivors who have no family, and even though they are living the prophetic dream in the Promised Land, this can be very difficult,” she continued. “The Fellowship wants them to know they are not alone. We are their family.”
Yael also said that Christians from abroad are among the donors who are enabling the 2200 elderly Israelis to have a much more joyous Purim holiday.
“There are millions of Christians around the world who care about them and consider them their family,” she added. “This project creates this bridge, as well as a bridge to the volunteers, the younger generation.”
This coming Wednesday, February 28, 190 elderly residents from the city of Lod will enjoy an uplifting Purim party thanks to the efforts of not only the IFCJ but also 50 volunteer soldiers from the Tzrifin army base. The volunteers will bring along accessories, a disc jockey, two photographers, a makeup artist, and even a manicurist to pamper the elderly women.
On Purim, there is a special mitzvah of distributing food to friends as well as the needy. The Fellowship will perform this mitzvah at the gatherings by giving gifts of food that were generously donated by local businesses. In addition, the elderly participants will receive 100 greeting cards that were handwritten by the schoolchildren of the city of Modi’in. The schoolchildren also collected gifts for the elderly residents of the Lod hostel. The volunteers will also visit and bring joy to elderly individuals who are confined to their homes and are unable to attend the party due to their infirmity.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein expressed his gratitude to all helping in the IFCJ’s Purim project for the elderly.
“We are grateful to our hundreds of volunteers who generously devote their time to participate in this mitzvah, and we gladly invite every caring Israeli to join us and perpetuate this magnificent tradition of doing and giving,” he said.
“The people of Israel must join forces to benefit our parents’ generation, a generation in whose merit we are here today.”