“Thus says the Lord; Again there shall be heard in this place, which you say shall be desolate without man and without beast, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, that are desolate, without life and without inhabitants, and without beasts. The voice of Joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, …” (Jeremiah 33:10-11)
Amid the continuing escalation of terror attacks perpetrated by Palestinian assailants against Israelis, Karmey Chesed is stepping in to make sure that newlywed couples have what they need to begin their new life together properly.
“With the painful and tough security situation that is going on today, a little bit of help for a new couple really makes them joyous and helps them with their internal peace of mind,” said Aryeh Weingarten, Director of Karmey Chesed, to Breaking Israel News. “Financial difficulties often can upset the peace in a household,” he continued. “We try our best to alleviate that.”
Many newlywed couples helped by Karmey Chesed are IDF veterans who are just starting out in life and have not yet procured financial or professional security for themselves. A large percentage of the couples come from low socioeconomic backgrounds and therefore do not receive any help from their families. What makes matters worse is the tenuous security situation.
As many Israelis feel their financial situation worsen due to continued Palestinian terror attacks, it becomes harder for the families to make enough money to enable them to purchase big ticket items such as refrigerators, ovens, washing machines, stoves and even household furniture. To furnish a home completely with basic necessities can be a prohibitive NIS 50,000 – 60,000 ($13,000-$15,000), a sum which is astronomical for a young couple just starting out.
Annually, Karmey Chesed donates electrical appliances and home furnishings that cost in the tens of thousands of shekels. Occasionally, if the circumstances are really dire, the organization also helps out a couple to finance their wedding and purchase food as well.
“We have helped hundreds of young couples and families across the center and south of the country,” said Weingarten, “and we are looking to do more.” Karmey Chesed is opening a chapter in the north of the country as well, and is currently looking to help such families in that area of the country as well.
“We need more volunteers and partnering organizations to step forward and help us be able to provide for couples and families in need in the north of Israel as well,” he explained to Breaking Israel News. But as Weingarten points out, the organization also needs more funds. “All of this work depends upon on our financial situation. With the security situation being what it is, the organization’s financial situation is becoming more difficult, and more people need our help,” he said.
Karmey Chesed has had its financial ups and downs like all other non-profit organizations. However, due to the continuing terror attacks, the current quarter seems to be one of the more difficult times.
“As more attacks occur, people need more help,” explained Weingarten to Breaking Israel News. “Businesses are not doing as well, as people are afraid to leave their homes and go shopping. Additionally, one of the bigger ramifications caused by the terror attacks is that the Arab workers, who often are the builders in the country are being sent home because of the fear that they pose a security threat, or for their own safety. They are not allowed to come into Jewish neighborhoods and work, which in turn causes people to not be able to move into their homes, and for businesses to put their openings on hold.”
The downward financial spiral affects everyone, and therefore more people need help and the resources of charity organizations such as Karmey Chesed, become all the more tight.
Above and beyond the security situation, one of the more challenging aspects of the work that Karmey Chesed is doing across Israel is the fact that the organization upholds the Maimonidean ideal of not letting those who receive the help know where it comes from.
“We work through a network of volunteers and other helpful organizations,” said Weingarten, “so many of the people who receive our help don’t even know it is coming from us. We don’t take pictures of those we help, as we don’t want to embarrass them. Likewise, we don’t tell them that it is from us, as we allow the other volunteers and organizations to take the credit.”
When asked if this causes a lessening of the possible donor pool, Weingarten responded in the affirmative. “It does limit us somewhat, but what can we do, this is the proper way to give charity. Our way. If it makes the couple or the family who receive the help happier, if it gives them a better feeling about themselves not having to depend on us, then that is what we will do. Giving with dignity is part of the giving process, and that is something we will stand behind,” said Weingarten.