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Handiworks that warm the heart

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Posted on: 
11 Jan 2022
Handiworks that warm the heart

When Jewish families are celebrating Shabbat around the table on Friday evenings, observant fathers bless their children and then recite from Proverbs a blessing over their wife. “An excellent wife, who can find? … She looks for wool and flax, and works with her hands in delight… A woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:10, 13, 31)

For many years, the ICEJ has received boxes filled with beautiful handmade quilts from the USA, designated for Holocaust Survivors. These blankets are made with love and dedication, involving many hours of work, to bless the people of Israel. ICEJ Homecare worker Corrie van Maanen recently delivered some of these quilts during her weekly visits to elderly and disabled Russian Jewish immigrants to Israel.

Mirjam was born in Belarus and is now in her eighties. She suffered severely during the Second World War. She remembers being the princess of her father, and how he could lift her up high above his head, filling the room with giggles and joy. This young father left his family during the war and never returned to his wife and daughter. Mirjam’s mom was suffering from heart disease but did everything she could to care for her little girl. At the beginning of the war Mirjam and her mother fled by train to Siberia, enduring a time as refugees that was filled with fear and hunger. When the war was finally over, they moved back to Belarus but had no money and no father in the home. Who would provide? The mother could not afford to rent anything more than a cold, damp basement room. There were no tiles on the floor and the rats were running around, especially in the night. The trauma of her childhood lingers with Mirjam until today. When Corrie visited and gave her the quilt, Mirjam responded with tears: “This love is touching my heart!”

Luba, now 96, made aliyah from Moscow in the 1990s, living independently ever since in a small apartment in Jerusalem. She often feels lonely and has many concerns for her only son, who is very ill. She tries to help him as much as she can, in spite of her age. With the new quilted blanket in hand, her fingers gently touching it, she was impressed with the work and beauty of it. “When you give me a gift, it is always beautiful. It leaves me happy and feeling precious.” For that moment, her sense of being love took over her sorrow.

Or as elderly Jewish immigrant Sara states it: “It shows love and attention, and that we are not forgotten.”

The Finnish people have a very special relationship and long history of love for the people of Israel. It is most certainly love in action when we think of the Aliyah from the Former Soviet Union and the vital role which Finnish Christians have played for so many decades in this work of compassion and prophetic fulfilment. A great faithfulness has been displayed in these believers who, with quietness and dedication, have done the work their hands have found to do.

Love is displayed as well in the boxes full of handknitted woolen socks which ICEJ regularly receives from Finland. The socks are shared not only with the Homecare patients whom Corrie visits weekly, but also with soldiers in the army. Young men and women who must give their best years to service and protecting the nation of Israel. Young men and women who are often in difficult places, where courage must rule over fear to complete the missions they are called to do. When a group of soldiers receives the warm socks, many shouts of joy and words of ‘thanks’ fill the air.

In the Netherlands, there is a city near the North Sea which is well-known for their longstanding love for Israel. A group of women there knit the most beautiful baby clothes throughout the year. When a box arrives, Homecare shares the packages with an organisation in Tel Aviv and one in Beersheba which protect unborn babies. When women – sometimes very young or in difficult family situations – become pregnant, an abortion is often the advice they receive. But the people of these organisations want to help these women in crisis pregnancies by protecting the unborn life and providing material and emotional help. Both Jewish and Arab women find help from the dedicated workers. The women are especially assisted in working through the process from rejection to acceptance of themselves and their young child.

Receiving a package of hand-made items that someone has crafted with love is a source of comfort and healing. “These small acts of love often have a far greater effect than we often realise,” said Oxana, who leads the work in Beersheba.

Today, the Christian Embassy wants to shine the light on all those supporters around the world who give of themselves in very personal ways to bless and show love to Israel. Besides these displays of handiwork, we need many others to continue giving towards the work of ICEJ Homecare – your extended hands and feet here in the Land of Israel. Please consider doing your part to comfort these precious sons and daughters of Israel.

 

 

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