“I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ ” (Deuteronomy 15:11)
Karmey Chesed has begun a crowdfunding campaign to help a destitute Jewish family living in Israel. The campaign, which uses a pseudonym to protect the privacy of the family, is not something that the organization does for every family that they help. Due to their dire need, this family has warranted special attention which goes beyond the general help that Karmey Chesed usually offers.
The organization spends tremendous amount of effort helping families all across Israel, in addition to soldiers and Jews who were expelled from Gush Katif. The help that Karmey Chesed gives to these families, individuals, soldiers, and Gush Katif evacuees is both financial and practical, providing those in need with necessities in addition to monetary aid. This includes furniture, appliances such as refrigerators, ovens, and anything else that families may need.
However, the Schwartz family’s troubles extend beyond regular need. The Schwartzes have eight children, and all ten family members live in a cramped two-bedroom apartment, which is all that they could afford. On top of the mortgage payments that they are making on their apartment, the family has incurred a very large debt to both the bank and to private creditors due to a variety of uncontrollable factors.
The Schwartzes’ story began with a health issue. Yaakov Schwartz has a genetic disorder which prevents him from working in most jobs. He also suffers from ADHD. The two conditions together make holding down employment almost impossible. His wife Rivkah worked as a teacher when the couple got married, but had to leave her profession to care for their eight children, ranging from 2 months to 17 years of age.
The family, having already borrowed money from family and friends in their community, has very few places left that they can turn. They are hounded for money by their creditors on an almost daily basis. “People we owe money to come up to us at the bus stop, or in the gas station and supermarket. They wait for us so that they can ask us to pay them back. They think that perhaps today, we may have some money to pay them, when we didn’t yesterday,” said Rivkah.
Karmey Chesed has stepped in in an unusual way. In addition to providing the Schwartzes with some cash for emergencies, as well as furniture, they are trying to garner support for a large online campaign. While the campaign is starting off modestly, aiming to raise an immediate $5,000 for the family, Karmey Chesed is hoping for a much larger windfall, making strong efforts to get some of their larger donors to adopt the Schwartz’s campaign in order to create a serious fundraising drive. “This family is in really bad shape, and we need to help them,” said a source within the organization.
So far, said Rivka, the organization has helped a lot, but the family needs an immediate $7,800 in order to pay back some of their creditors and do emergency repairs on their home.
“The pressure that the family is undergoing due to the small living quarters is becoming unbearable,” said Rivkah, whose two oldest daughters sleep on the floor of their living room. “I used to spend time with my four daughters, we used to tell stories of what happened to us each day, and we used to laugh.” Now, however, the situation has become so stressful that the children are often unable to cope with it.
“That is the toughest thing for me,” said Rivkah. “We are a family that puts in a lot of effort into raising our children, and we try to provide for them whatever we can. Knowing that we provided them with a warm atmosphere in spite of everything, that kept me going. But now seeing that atmosphere disappear under the weight of the financial stress that we all feel, and under the stress caused by the cramped living environment, that is the toughest thing for me.This situation has broken my heart.”
The family, however, has not given up hope. In addition to Rivka’s efforts to find a job, her husband, who is on medication to help him regulate his condition, has recently been given a modest salary for the work he has been doing as a volunteer for a local school.The steady salary is a start towards building a more stable home life.
Rivkah dreams of the day that she can live debt free. She very much hopes that at some point in the future she will be able to repay her creditors and build an extra room onto her home to alleviate the external as well as internal pressures on the family. “I believe that God will help us find a way to be able to provide for our family and to enable us to get back to where we were before,” she said. In the meantime, Karmey Chesed is doing everything it can to keep the Schwartzes above water.