Never Thought I'd See the Day

Being out here in Tinsel Town, we sometimes become a bit jaded about what is really happening in the rest of the world. The Hollywood crowd is so insulated that most of them don't even know that there is a war going on and wouldn't know where to find Israel on the map.

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Arlene Peck

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Being out here in Tinsel Town, we sometimes become a bit jaded about what is really happening in the rest of the world. The Hollywood crowd is so insulated that most of them don't even know that there is a war going on and wouldn't know where to find Israel on the map.

I speak on that topic often on the Christian Radio program "Front Page Jerusalem". It is broadcast in well over one hundred cities across the United States. Thank God there are good Christians out there who are supporting Israel, because I don't often find the necessary concern from the rest of the population. They, like I, are concerned that the celebrities, Jewish or otherwise, are not supporting Israel.

People, Jewish people here in the land of Hollywood, are over-programmed and are being hit upon by every group from Save the Whales to fighting-AIDS-in-Africa funds. Most of the time, these charitable stars never even think of sending any of their charity dollars to Israel. They're so assimilated that they think ordering bagels with a 'smear' is really, really Jewish. Gefilte fish is something they truly believe is caught in the sea. I am appalled by individuals who are biologically Jewish but have no conception as to what being Jewish really means.

Unfortunately, most of the Hollywood crowd that can afford to finance or make a difference in the Israeli charities are so lacking in Jewish identity that it never even occurs to them that their Jewish brothers in Israel might need money for basic things like food. Occasionally, you'll get a Jason Alexander who will offer to fly there and take a poll to solve the Arab/Israel problem.

The over-indulged crowd spends a fortune at spas to diet away unwanted pounds. These self-absorbed and indulgent celebrities aren't even aware that there are actually children in Israel who are going hungry! Actually, to tell the truth, I was amazed that the situation has gotten so serious in Israel that there are now programs like Hazon Yeshaya Soup Kitchens. Their slogan: "Adopt-a-hungry-child" to make a difference, to replace hunger with hope.

It seems the savage and senseless Intifada over the past few years has caused the percentage of Israeli children who live below the poverty line to grow to approximately 25% and climbing. That translates to over 690,000 Jewish children living in Israel who are going to bed hungry. Ironic how one of the fears that we in America have is that schoolchildren are becoming obese because of lack of exercise and over indulgence in 'junk food'. Yet, amazingly enough, children in Israel, as young as ten, have been arrested in the act of stealing food to ease their hunger. According to a recent poverty statistic abstract from Haaretz, nationwide, one out of five Israelis, including a quarter of Israeli children, live below the poverty line. And their poverty line is a lot lower than what is considered poverty in Beverly Hills.

Recently, I had an opportunity to meet with Abraham Israel, the director and founder of Hazon Yeshaya soup kitchens. I was amazed when this wonderful man told me that he and his terrific organization are quietly providing more than 120,000 hot meals each month to those that need them the most in Israel. And the lines grow longer every day.

Over here, we yawn when the homeless stand on the street corners. The issue of homelessness and hunger never used to arise when it came to the Jewish State. Yet, it has. So there are those like the good rabbi who are there to offer hot meals and encouragement to the homeless, elderly, disabled and poor children with Down's Syndrome and/or special needs, to distribute clothes and shoes to Israel's needy, in order to make them feel less so. Oh, and let's not forget the 1,000 Holocaust survivors the organization feeds each day. Folks, there is a waiting list of 9,000 more Holocaust survivors waiting to be fed when funding is available.

Of course, there are a lot of things in Israel that I would have never thought there were.

Who would have thought that there would exist the need for an organization called Efrat (the Committee for the Rescue of Israel's Babies)? Last year it saved the lives of 1,336 babies in Israel by providing financial support to their mothers, who were considering abortion due to financial concerns. This year looks even more dismal.

Unbelievably, there are 50,000 abortions in Israel every year, most of which are done for economic concerns. As an American, who knows how long the waiting list is for babies here in this country, I found it difficult to believe that more Jewish children have been lost to abortion in Israel (two million since 1948) than were lost in the Holocaust. But that's why organizations such as Efrat are beginning to reach out to these women.

I receive e-mails from and have met so many representatives from Jewish groups coming out of Israel hoping for help that sometimes it is mind-boggling to think of all the causes that we need to support.

I recently spent some time with Pinchas Gerber from the Shomron Development Fund. He is the deputy director of social work for the Shomron Regional Council, a municipality made up of 33 settlements. It is sad that he had to educate me on how the children of Israel have forgotten how to laugh. So, the fund sends a traveling carnival to each community a few times a year to give them a few tension-free hours. They live in fear of driving on terror-filled roads to go to a dentist in another community. Instead the fund sends a dental van to them so they don't have to take the chance of having a savage Palestinian sniper kill them on the road.

The kids in the Shomron Development Fund are going hungry, but they still provide food packages to about 200 families twice a month. And they have a waiting list of another 200. They have to distribute the food late in the evening in their bulletproof truck, so that the neighbors don't know who is receiving assistance. This damn Intifada has affected everybody.

Israel's growing poverty is, in part, also due to the constant attempts by Western countries to place boycotts on Israeli produce. Though, luckily, so far, these attempts have had only a limited effect, but nevertheless, they are a factor to be considered. In addition, the 18% VAT tax that is put on the Israeli people cuts into their ability to buy the very food that's most needed.

I suppose I'm getting carried away. But the point I want to bring out is that these are groups that I, and most of my fellow Americans, never even knew existed.

"Who woulda thunk" that the land of milk and honey was running out of food for its children?


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