IFCJ organizes visits to the elderly
IFCJ organizes visits to the elderlyCourtesy

The Tzohar Rabbinical Organization, in cooperation with ALEH, is launching a program encouraging people with elderly neighbors to light Hanukkah candles together.

The launch of the program will see the distribution of sets of menorahs, candles, matches and accompanying texts delivered to 60 different locations. In each of the locations, spread out between Jerusalem, Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv, young and old residents will come together to commemorate the holiday.

Esti Wolfson, Director of the Holiday Programming Division at Tzohar commented, "Hanukkah is a family holiday of joy and we need to remember those who are alone. That understanding inspired this program with the hope that each year we will be able to reach more and more people to reach out to those around them. We're sure that everyone who participates will have a more enjoyable and meaningful holiday."

The Ohr Torah Stone educational organization will be running their annual Hanukkah program, 'Our Building Lights', spanning across dozens of cities in Israel, and reaching thousands of participants. As part of the initiative, which is customized by location, thousands of packages will be distributed and holiday celebrations, contests and games will be hosted in residential building lobbies and common spaces.

The initiative, run by OTS's Monique and Mordecai Katz 'Yachad' Program, is an extension of the Jewish Identity programming run year-round through the Israeli Community Center network to empower secular Israelis to connect to their heritage in warm, non-coercive environments, to connect between various segments of society in an effort to build strong, cohesive Jewish communities in which Judaism is viewed as a source of meaning, guidance and pride.

“There is a great deal of darkness from a sense of disunity amongst us and it often feels as though the rifts between religious and secular, Israeli and Diaspora Jews and other groups are growing ” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, President and Rosh HaYeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone. “Hanukkah is a holiday on which we can respond with light and hope. The candle lighting program harnesses the special light of Hanukkah to unite families and communities based on our shared values and traditions – with unity not requiring uniformity. We pray that Hanukkah this year will also represent a modern-day victory over our challenges and help usher in a period of unity and spiritual wholeness between Jews of all backgrounds, ages, ethnicities and walks of life."

Helping to bring holiday joy and a break from loneliness for the elderly population, employees and volunteers from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) will be visiting over 1,100 seniors across Israel for the holiday. The visit to those part of the IFCJ “With Dignity and Fellowship” program will include lighting Hanukkah candles together as well as a gift box for the holiday, including an emergency lamp in preparation for winter.

Raisa, 89, a holocaust survivor and beneficiary of the program said, “For me, it brings me great joy and is a big mitzvah. These visits are very special and I know that I am cared for and not forgotten.”

“Hanukkah is a time of joy, hope and family, yet for over 18,000 elderly Israelis it is sadly just another time of hardship and loneliness,” said Yael Eckstein, President of the IFCJ. “Just like the national miracle that is at the heart of this holiday, these elders all deserve their individual miracles. On behalf of our 600,000 donors across the world, we are blessed to be able to visit and bring some warmth and light, companionship and support in honor of the festival of lights.”

With Dignity and Fellowship is a program of the IFCJ helping more than 18,000 of Israel’s poorest elderly over the age of 80, including 8,000 Holocaust survivors, with food every week for the rest of their lives, as well as wide variety of social and practical services in 54 municipalities all across the country.