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A Happy Jewish New Year From St. Petersburg to Jerusalem

Nov/Dec 2019 WFJ Article

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20 Nov 2019
A Happy Jewish New Year From St. Petersburg to Jerusalem

Rosh Hashanah, known as the Jewish New Year, is a time of prayer and celebration. This year it fell on the first days of October, and the weeks before were especially busy for ICEJ’s Homecare. It is traditional to give and receive gifts during this holiday, so a group in the Netherlands with hearts for Holocaust Survivors ensured that 90 elderly Russian Jews, mainly in poor health, would not be forgotten. Therefore, on their behalf, 90 gifts were prepared and 90 extra home visits were made.

The beautiful packages contained handmade soap, a ceramic soap tray and small towel. Each gift included a greeting card with words of encouragement and Scripture for those who may feel lonely and uprooted in the land in which they were not born, but to where they made Aliyah. Each visit was warm and welcoming with various stories shared. There were happy childhood memories of how Rosh Hashanah was celebrated within their family, but also some painful memories of the loss of loved ones. “You bring us always, light and joy,” said an elderly couple with tears in their eyes. “You bring the world into my life,” said a lady who is wheelchair bound and without family, as she stretched her arms wide open to indicate the love she was receiving. 

Meanwhile, back in their former homeland, ICEJ’s Russian Branch Director Howard Flower, was also busy preparing for Rosh Hashanah. He visited a Jewish Community Centre to distribute gifts of clothing, food parcels and pharmacy vouchers. The Holocaust Survivors, war veterans, and invalids who received these gifts of love, struggle economically with inadequate pensions.

Their particular circumstances make it impossible for them to immigrate to Israel, but, “We try to do what we can for them,” says Howard. In the old homeland of St. Petersburg and the new homeland of Jerusalem, hearts were touched on this significant Jewish holiday by the love of Christians from the nations.

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