The smiles on the faces of these dedicated hospital workers at Montefiore Medical Center, Moses Campus, Department of Pharmacy say it all! Who knew that a steady delivery of all kinds of snacks would bring such joy? While doctors and nurses provide the hands-on life-saving needed to help in this crisis, it is the pharmacy department that prepares all the medications needed and races them to the floors. While their sign says “Good People are Great People” we think that they are the Great People!
Many of us are probably in the middle of preparing a pot of chicken soup—albeit a much smaller pot than we’ve prepared in years’ past.
As Passover approaches in but a few hours, we thought this beautiful story might bring some cheer as we celebrate a holiday alone and anxious about all that is happening around us. These two pictures were sent to us by Gideon Ben Ami, founder of Pesia’s Kitchen in Israel. Gideon, forever the entrepreneur and imbued with limitless passion for helping others, is intimately familiar with the “routine” hunger that pervades Tel Aviv’s poorest neighborhoods. And so, with no knowledge of the pandemic that was about to break out, took a donated Zim Lines container and turned it into a small kitchen—quite literally a soup kitchen.
With our help, along with others who understood his idea, in a matter of weeks that bare container was transformed into a clean and bright kitchen complete with commercial grade equipment and volunteer chefs. Since it opened earlier this week, the volunteers have been cranking out gallons and gallons of rich, nutritious soup and distributing it those in South Tel Aviv who now have little or nothing.
From all of us at The Good People Fund, Chag Pesach Sameach and next year, may we all be joined with family and friends once again.
For those of you who have followed this blog over the years, you may recall the tragic story of Awaad, a young man the Good People Fund was able to help throughout his extraordinary journey. After escaping what would have been a lifetime of conscription in his native Eritrea, Awaad found his way to Sudan. Kidnapped by Bedouins, he was held for ransom in the Sinai, imprisoned in Israel’s Holot prison for two years, and eventually ended up on the streets of Tel Aviv.
In 2015 our friend, Gideon Ben Ami of Pesia’s Kitchen met Awaad at the hospital after hearing a news story about the young Eritrean who was attacked by a mentally deranged man wielding a machete, and brought to the hospital with his hand completely severed from his arm. Because of Gideon’s compassion and with the additional help of doctors and some good people from Zichron Yakov, Awaad recovered after his hand was reattached. With further help from others, Awaad received political asylum in Switzerland a few years later.
One would think that this would be the happy ending to a tragic story but, alas, it was not. Awaad spent three years in Switzerland in a restricted compound where he could not work, and developed tuberculosis. Again, by some miracle he recovered and eventually managed to reach England where yesterday, after six months, his journey at last reached an end…”he received notification that he has been legally accepted into the British Isles! He will be allowed to work, study English free, live in England where he chooses, and in a month be able to get a British passport, and if all goes well, will become a British citizen in 5 years.”
Very rarely does the Good People Fund get to hear the end of the story where we were stepped in and helped save someone’s life. This was one of those exceptions and we could not be more grateful to the donors who give us the tools to make such miracles possible.
A few weeks ago, before the city of El Paso gained a tragic notoriety never expected, we wrote of Dr. Eva Moyo, a professor of social work at UT-El Paso who could not stand idly by while migrants–men, women and children–poured into the city with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.
As Dr. Moyo learned of items needed, we sent her on a shopping trip. The list was long. In addition to the expected soap, diapers, underwear and toothpaste, were more specific items that spoke to the unique needs of people who may have walked days seeking safety–vitamins, anti-fungal cream, foot powder, triple antibiotic cream and more.
Thanks to the generosity of congregants at Temple Israel-Ner Tamid in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, children on the border have benefited from another important item…a cuddly Teddy Bear to calm fears and stop tears.
The Good People Fund is proud of its early leadership role in the Jewish community’s growing conversation about respectful workplaces and gender harassment in our communal spaces. To date, much of our work has been channeled through a single project that has become known as “B’Kavod” (“With Respect”).
While we are gratified that meaningful progress has been made, much work remains to be done. It is a source of satisfaction that as a result of our efforts, others in growing numbers, have joined in our focus on this important issue. In light of this progress, we have decided to formally end our participation in the B’Kavod project and reassess how in the future we can most effectively continue to play a constructive and leading role in this ongoing dialogue.
Going forward, we expect to identify new, innovative, efficient, and effective means to continue to play a meaningful role in the Jewish community’s ongoing focus on this important issue.
We will keep you informed as things evolve.
Today, Israel is home to more than 150,000 Ethiopians, with more than half living below the poverty line. In that number are many teenagers who were born in Ethiopia and made aliyah as infants and young children. For most, there is no understanding or recollection of their country of origin.
Dr. Stu Chesner, a noted psychologist who has lived in Israel for many years, understands the unique needs of young people, many of them Ethiopian, who struggle to fit in and began Magen, a new Good People Fund grantee, to provide a holistic approach to academic, emotional and social intelligence.
The Ethiopian kids in this picture arrived in Ethiopia today in search of their roots and to better understand their heritage. It was our honor to underwrite the trip for three of these young people. We can only imagine the insights they will gain from this journey “home” and how those insights will help them mature and become productive adults.