“For the poor shall never cease out of the land; therefore I command thee, saying: ‘Thou shalt surely open thy hand unto thy poor and needy brother, in thy land.”
Deuteronomy 15:11 (The Israel Bible™)
Since the mass immigration of Ethiopians to Israel started in 1984 with Operation Moses, the Holy Land has been faced with the enormous challenge of integrating these Jews. Coming from a third-world country, generally uneducated and working in agriculture, the nearly 135,500 Ethiopians who live in Israel today have had to adapt to major cultural and social differences.
Adia (a pseudonym) arrived in Israel two years ago through one of the last Israeli transports from Ethiopia. Divorced and destitute, she was already the mother of a one-and-a-half-year-old son.
“Adia not only had no formal education and could not read or write, she also had no material possessions,” said Aryeh Weingarten, Founder of Karmey Chesed charity organization, to Breaking Israel News. “It’s hard enough to have to acclimate to a new country and modern living with all of its technology. Living in a bare apartment was more than anyone could handle.”
At her arrival to Israel, Adia lived in an absorption center funded by the Israeli government. Then, she relocated to a shelter in Israel’s southern city of Ashdod. She could not speak Hebrew and could not even afford to buy a hot water kettle.
Adia did have one thing going for her: a brother already in Israel who wanted to help. “I really wanted to help my sister but I had my own family to take care of,” Caleb (a pseudonym) told Breaking Israel News. “And, exactly at the time that she was destitute and in need of urgent assistance, my wife lost her job. There was no way that we could include fulfilling her needs into our budget.”
Caleb continued to explain to Breaking Israel News that he told a friend at work about his sister’s woes and his frustrations that he couldn’t help her. The friend told Caleb that he must call Karmey Chesed for they would surely assist.
“I really didn’t think that anything would come out of this phone call as most people just talk but don’t do,” Caleb said. “To take action and really care and stay true to your word is a whole other level.”
Caleb called Weingarten anyway. He just “couldn’t believe [his] ears”, he told Breaking Israel News. Weingarten told Caleb that he would provide all the furniture and appliances that Adia needed to live properly.
“She got a washing machine, oven, bed frame with mattress, TV, table, chairs and lots more,” he said, “Her house filled up with what she needed but there was more. Karmey Chesed continued to be in touch with Adia to check on her welfare, helped with paying her bills and anything else that she needed. She and her child are very happy today.”
This story has an even happier ending. Today, Adia speaks Hebrew. She now lives in a proper apartment in a Jerusalem suburb. She is working and is managing to pay her rent on her own. “We have no words to properly express our thanks to Karmey Chesed,” said Caleb. “Because of the help that they gave her in the beginning, she had the strength and hope to go on to rebuild her life in a successful way.”