JERUSALEM — The coronavirus crisis has greatly impacted many families in Israel. To alleviate the overwhelming need, Israel’s Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs, together with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), has decided to provide more than $3 million for the benefit of individuals and families needing additional support. This will be added to a flexible budget transferred to the local authorities to improve their ability to cope with residents in economic distress. Currently, more than 82,000 households need assistance in addition to the benefits they receive from Israel’s National Insurance Institute.
The financial assistance will be given according to the judgment of the local welfare office familiar with the residents and will be valued at a sum of up to approximately $1,500 for individuals and families. The assistance will be used for:
- The purchase of food products and products for cleaning, hygiene, and home maintenance
- Medical needs such as medications, emergency medical equipment, transportation to urgent treatments, and dental treatments
- Rent payments
- Basic electrical appliances, including devices needed for remote online study
- Basic furniture, clothing, and shoes
- Other needs to ensure the effective functioning of the individual or family
The emergency assistance program for families began in June 2020 in 140 local authorities. In September 2020, the program was expanded to all the local authorities in Israel. Analysis of requests received in local welfare offices showed that the majority (49%) were for food assistance, followed by requests for electrical appliances (20%). The initiative is intended to assist the needy population that has been most affected by the current crisis. Clients can also receive a digital voucher that can be used for essential items such as food. The digital voucher will be sent in an SMS message to the cellphone of the eligible individual, who will present it when receiving the item or service.
The additional funds will enable local Israeli welfare departments to distribute assistance in the best possible way to individuals and families in distress. Anyone who is eligible and requests assistance can receive it within a day, thanks to the partnership with The Fellowship.
Due to this partnership, the budget has been doubled and bureaucratic limitations have been removed, so that local authorities can take an active part in the initiative without any need for expenditures on their side.
Yael Eckstein, President and CEO of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, commented, “The coronavirus pandemic created an economic crisis like we have never known before, and that we will continue to face for a long time. In light of the devastating impact this crisis has had on needy families, this year we are raising extra funds and have significantly increased our budgets and resources. With these funds we can assist children, families, and the elderly with food and basic needs, enabling them to live in dignity and cope with these unprecedented challenges.”
“Immediately after I entered the position of Minister of Welfare and Social Affairs, I put an emphasis on coping with the poverty that increased during the coronavirus crisis,” said Israel’s Minister of Welfare and Social Affairs, Meir Cohen. “I want to thank our partners at The Fellowship, who have collaborated with the government throughout many years in reaching out to the most vulnerable populations.”
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) was founded in 1983 to promote better understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews and build broad support for Israel. Today it is one of the leading forces helping Israel and Jews in need worldwide — and is the largest channel of Christian support for Israel. Founded by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, The Fellowship now raises more than $120 million per year, mostly from Christians, to assist Israel and the Jewish people. Since its founding, The Fellowship has raised more than $1.8 billion for this work. The organization has offices in Jerusalem, Chicago, Toronto and Seoul. For more information, visit www.ifcj.org.
Yael Eckstein is the President and CEO of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. In this role, Eckstein oversees all ministry programs and serves as the organization’s international spokesperson. She can be heard on The Fellowship’s daily radio program airing on 1,500 stations worldwide. Before her present duties, Yael served as global executive vice president, senior vice president, and director of program development and ministry outreach. Based in Jerusalem, Yael is a published writer, leading international advocate for persecuted religious minorities, and a respected social services professional. As President and CEO of The Fellowship, she also holds the rare distinction of being a woman leading one of America’s largest religious not-for-profit organizations.
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