“Can a woman forget her baby, Or disown the child of her womb?” (Isaiah 49:15)
Sivan (pseudonym) is a single mother of three. With a limited education, she works part time as an assistant in an Israeli kindergarten making minimum wage. Looking into her refrigerator, one finds a half filled bottle of milk and a partial loaf of bread.
The National Council for the Child just released its 2017 Statistical Yearbook of the Council for the Child at a public presentation at the home of Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin. The report found that nearly 900,000 Israeli children go to bed hungry each night.
Meir Panim charity organization has been running soup kitchens along with a wide network of social welfare programs in Israel for the past 16 years. Goldie Sternbuch, Director of Overseas Relations for Meir Panim stated, “We find that more and more individuals and families need our assistance to feed their families. With the help of donations from our supporters, we do all we can to ensure that people have food to eat and needy children are getting helped.”
“One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD,
And He will repay him for his good deed.” (Proverbs 19:17)
Following receipt of the yearbook, President Reuven Rivlin stated that the government must allocate more resources to ensure not only the welfare of children but also the future of Israel. “Children are our most precious and important national resource – caring for their welfare is a concern for the future of society as a whole, and now our job is to do more for the future of our children, to allocate more resources in money and manpower.”
However, Sternbuch is skeptical, “Each year the report is presented and each year the government states that something must be done. Hungry children cannot wait for bureaucratic programs to be approved and implemented. Children need food today and every day.”
Sivan agrees with this assessment. She notes that without the help of Meir Panim, she would not manage at all. “We receive food boxes and prepaid shopping cards before the holidays,” she explained. “I regularly eat a hot, delicious meal at Meir Panim’s free restaurant-style soup kitchen in Jerusalem and they allow me to bring home food for my children who otherwise would go to bed hungry.”
“And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday.” (Isaiah 58:10)
Vered Vindman, director-general of the National Council for the Child, presented the the report to the President. Rivlin then defined a child living in poverty. “A poor child is a child who goes to bed hungry. He is a child who comes to school without a sandwich. He is a child who finds it difficult to concentrate in school. He is in danger. He is a youth who goes out to work to help support his family, and [later] an adult who finds it difficult to escape the cycle of poverty. It doesn’t matter what his religion is or to what sector he belongs.”
With 33 percent of Israeli children not knowing where their next meal will come from, immediate and urgent measures must be taken. “Our job – now – is to act; to do more for the future of our children. To allocate more resources in [the form of] funds and manpower to care for those who comprise more than a third of the State of Israel’s population,” Rivlin said.
In the meantime, Meir Panim is providing the help that struggling families need. To donate to Meir Panim, please click here.