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Thursday, 24 January 2008

Keren B'Kavod Newsletter

December 2007-A Heartwarming Month for Keren B'Kavod
December has been a very busy month for Keren B'Kavod, the humanitarian
aid and social action program of the Israel Religious Action Center.
Keren B'Kavod is the Reform Movement's response to the growing
difficulty of many Israelis to provide themselves with basic
necessities. "A person does not live on bread alone," Deut. 8.3. Because
of this, we feel that it is necessary to address the problem of poverty
through beyond hunger. This December, Keren B'Kavod launched two
extensive campaigns to help needy families prepare for the winter and
celebrate Jewish, Christian and Muslim Holidays. In addition the Culture
Cards Program brought more than 100 children from underprivileged
families on a special trip to Jerusalem. For many of these children it
was the first time in their life they had been to Jerusalem and the
first time they had ever seen a live theater performance.

The Warm Winter Campaign
Keren B'Kavod staff along with volunteers from Reform Congregations
donated and helped package and distribute blankets and small heating
devices to poor families and lonely elderly citizens in Jerusalem, Haifa
and Shfaram. These impoverished families and individuals live in
extremely difficult conditions, in crowded small apartments, often
without any means to keep warm during the winter. The presence and help
of Keren B'Kavod volunteers was highly appreciated and the demand for
blankets, rather than electronically operated hearing devices tripled
this year. In the winter, these indigent people find themselves in a
position where they can't afford electric heating for the house and must
keep warm by other means.
This year, the Warm Winter Campaign was extended to kindergartens of
children of African refugees and foreign workers in Tel-Aviv. After
Sharona Yekutiel, the Director of Keren B'Kavod visited several
kindergartens in Tel-Aviv, she realized that Keren B'Kavod had to get
involved. Sharona was heartbroken to see the crowded, dirty, and
inadequate conditions of the kindergartens for these children due
insufficient resources. Sharona explains that the children crowd
together on the few mattresses available, leaving those who don't fit to
sleep on the floor. In a couple of the kindergartens, there is no
lighting - not one single light bulb in the entire place. On cold winter
days, with no sun in the sky, the children spend their time in almost
complete darkness. Keren B'Kavod volunteers, together the youth
activists of the Reform Movement, visited the kindergartens and
distributed food packages, radiators, blankets and lighting devices. The
volunteers also spent some time with the children, playing games, and
paying personal attention to these unfortunate children who barely see
their hard working parents. The children were thrilled to receive the
attention and the supplies Keren B'Kavod volunteers brought with them on
their visit.


Keren B'Kavod Helps the Poor During the Holiday Season
Holiday times are especially difficult for poor people. Throughout the
year, B'Kavod works with Reform congregations in Israel distributing
food packages to needy families of all faiths during Muslim, Christian,
Armenian, and Jewish holiday, as well as packages every month to one
hundred families in poor communities. This December, with the help of a
visiting group from Temple Emanuel in Dallas, TX, in a very short time
and with admirable efficiency, we managed to pack 170 food packages full
of basic nutritional necessities. These 170 food packages were
distributed to families of all faiths, in accordance with the
pluralistic tradition of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and
Keren B'Kavod. Christian families, celebrating Christmas and Muslim
families celebrating Eid al-Agha, and Jewish families from Sederot who
struggle with the difficult security situation, all received these
packages. Keren B'Kavod's efforts are greatly appreciated by the
recipients, many of whom are surprised to learn that outsiders care
about their struggle and difficult lives. A single mother from Sderot
was touched to learn that "Jews from other places care about us." A
Domari family from East Jerusalem was pleasantly surprised that "Jews
made this contribution". Perhaps even more important, several of the
recipients asked to take part in the next food packaging campaign, and
help prepare more food packages for the needy.

Culture Cards Program
Because Keren B'Kavod strongly believes that poverty is not only
experienced as a lack of food, the project also engages needy
populations in cultural and social enrichment activities. The Culture
Cards Program provides opportunities for children and their families who
already receive food packages from Keren B'Kavod to attend cultural
activities, from museum and library visits to theater and musical
performances. This December, the Culture Cards Program brought together
100 children and their parents, to visit Jerusalem and enjoy a show
called "The Princess and the Porcupine" which teaches children about
friendships with people from different backgrounds. The children loved
this play, whose costumes and characters inspired awe and wonder and
their parents were thankful for the opportunity to spend some quality
time with their children, away from the stressful and demanding routine
of everyday life.

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