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YAD EZRA V’SHULAMIT

By: Ellen Geller Kamaras



Yad Ezra V’Shulamitis a humanitarian organization that helps needy families in Israel fight poverty with self-respect.

Aryeh Lurie is the organization’s founder and director. Lurie knew hunger intimately as a child. His sensitivity to extreme poverty helped define the mission of Yad Ezra V'Shulamit. Lurie explains, "Once, in a food line for free potatoes, someone gave me a broken toy. They were so happy, but I felt awful. Now, I am grateful for the lesson. I learned how not to give to the poor. Children from needy families are extremely sensitive to their plight. Their self-esteem and self-respect are easily damaged. We do everything possible to ensure our children do not feel less than others. Many people regard the poor as lower, dirtier, or less intelligent,” continues Lurie. “Once I heard an employee raising his voice to someone applying for a food basket. He was fired immediately. Our clients are already in pain. One must never say or do anything to make it worse.”

In keeping with his philosophy, Lurie sets up an annual 'store' with new coats and school supplies. The children can choose, as if they were in a shop. Why? As Lurie says, "It is not enough to give. You have to care enough to give in a way that protects a person's pride.”

Despite Lurie’s own family’s poverty, he saw his mother cooking hot soup for Shabbat every week, and giving the first portion to a family in need. He named the organization in honor of his parents, Ezra and Shulamit. They taught him the values of charity and kindness that are the basis of the organization, which focuses on helping individuals overcome the challenges of poverty and achieve financial stability.

The Organization

“Start-up Nation Israel”has more companies on the NASDAQ than those of Europe, Korea, Japan, Singapore, China, and India all combined! However, this success belies recent statistics on poverty in Israel. One third of Israeli children live below the poverty line and report feeling hungry on a daily basis.

The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies recently released a study citing that Israel’s
long-term economic growth is not sustainable, and that Israel has the highest poverty rates among its OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) counterparts. In 2015 the National Insurance Institute reported that one in five Israelis live in poverty. Children (30%) and the elderly (22%) suffer the most.

There are more than 1.7 million poor Israelis, 22 % of the population. The concentration of poverty and high unemployment in Israel exists among two minority populations, haredi (ultra-orthodox) Jews (49% in 2015) and Israeli Arabs (53% in 2015). The study found that the government was failing to act on poverty by better use of taxes and by improving the welfare system. Tefilla Buxbaum, Director of Resource Development of Yad Ezra V’Shulamit commented, “How can we let Jewish children go hungry? It is not Jewish.”

Yad Ezra V’Shulamitneeds your support to provide food and critical services to our brothers and sisters in Israel. We cannot sit idly by while the Israeli government figures out the changes needed to help the poor.

Services and Projects

Founded in 1998, Yad Ezra V’Shulamit began by delivering food baskets to 50 local
needy families. Today it is a nationwide organization. 2,500 food baskets are distributed weekly to families all over Israel. Yad Ezra V’Shulamit’s other projects include after school children’s centers, where they feed over 500 children every day, clubs for teens at risk, a job desk, emergency relief, and more. Almost 100,000 people currently benefit from these services.

Founder Lurie vowed he would not let even one Jewish child in Israel go hungry. Today he provides programs geared towards breaking the cycle of poverty by addressing the needs of poor Israelis and helping them to become financially independent. Lurie is sensitive to his clients’ needs and treats them as individuals, with respect and kindness. “They don’t want to beg, but we hear their cry,” is how he describes the families served by Yad Ezra V’Shulamit.

A hungry child will find it very difficult to achieve success at school, so the organization’s focus is on children and the next generation. To help poor families Lurie even turned his own house into a soup kitchen, and moved his family to a small apartment.

Tefilla Buxbaum shared with me how Mr. Lurie manages the organization: “He runs it like he does his personal life, with a remarkable sense of responsibility for the wellbeing of
every Jew.”

Lurie demonstrated this responsibility during the last Gaza war. Residents of towns and villages were scared to leave their shelters and barely had time to run to a grocery store. Many stores were not open. Lurie traveled to the South and personally distributed
100 tons of food in two-and-a-half weeks to people in bomb shelters. He gave out the food himself, going from shelter to shelter.

Two years ago the winter was particularly harsh in Jerusalem. Many people were hospitalized, suffering from hyperthermia. Mr. Lurie secured a loan, bought 2,500 blankets and hundreds of heaters. He announced on the radio that he had blankets and heaters for anyone suffering from the severe cold, and hundreds of grateful residents came.

Why Donate to
Yad Ezra V’Shulamit?

Ms. Buxbaum told me that Hacham Ovadia Yosef, zt”l, was closely involved with Yad Ezra V'Shulamit and endorsed and blessed Aryeh Lurie for doing holy work and filling the world
with kindness.

She further explained, “Children are Israel’s national resource. Lurie believes it is our responsibility to give the upcoming generation tools and FOOD in order for them to grow up with an option for a better future.

“Holiday time is especially demanding. Last Pesah we gave 25,000 baskets and thousands of vouchers to food stores. We all want to make sure that every Jewish person has what they need for Rosh Hashanah. It's too heartbreaking to turn people away, especially for Rosh Hashanah. We do everything to make sure everyone gets something for the holidays. We turn to Klal Israel to help us; we can't do this alone. These are our brothers and sisters in Eretz Israel who need a helping hand.

“If everyone gives one food basket, there will be more than enough for everybody. Kol Israel arevim zeh lazeh.

“They turn to us, we turn to you. Please help us feed them.”

To donate, go to www.yadezra.net.

Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach. Her coaching specialties include life, career, and dating coaching. Ellen helps people
find their passion, purpose, and positivity in life and love.
Ellen can be contacted at ellen@lifecoachellen.com (www.lifecoachellen.com).

Today, Yad Ezra V’Shulamitoperates
the following major projects:

Food Baskets –Weekly and holiday baskets are overflowing with chicken, fish, fruit, vegetables, oil, grains, beans, canned goods, pasta, and challah. There’s enough to feed a family for Shabbat and have plenty left over for the rest of the week.

Children’s Centers –These centers provide
500 children with a daily nutritious lunch program, homework help, educational resources, and a
loving environment.

Feed-a-Baby –Feed and diaper a baby in Israel for only $2 a day. The Israelis living in poverty include thousands of malnourished babies.

Teens at Risk –Yad Ezra V’Shulamit operates 37 youth clubs for 3,000 teens from ages 14 to 22. These clubs offer an alternative to the streets for many Israeli youths at risk, and help to get them back on track.

Job Desk –Lurie offers his clients help with resume writing and interviewing skills, to help them get good jobs.

Distribution –This project equips children and teens with clothes and supplies for the new school year as well as blankets and heaters for the winter.

Emergency Relief –Lurie’s organization battles hunger and poverty in war and peace. During the wars in Lebanon, other attacks, and the recent Gaza War, the founder and brave volunteers brought food, water, and other necessities to Israelis trapped in bomb shelters, and to refugees who fled the North.

Back-to-School Distribution –Lurie wants to ensure each child has the right school bag and supplies so that s/he can go to school, learn in a normal environment, and become a successful, educated citizen.