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Passover is one of the most important holidays in Israel. The Seder night and the following week are a special time for gathering with family and loved ones. But with this joyous holiday come big expenses. Unfortunately, many families in Israel living in poverty are not able to purchase the necessary food items for the holiday. Each year, a team from VFI distributes financial aid to make it possible for these families to purchase food and rejoice in the holiday.

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One of the greatest commandments of Purim is to rejoice and be glad!  Vision for Israel, which often supports victims of terror, is dedicated to fulfilling this mitzvah. For Purim, Vision for Israel sponsored a joyful evening full of laughter and fun to give terror victims a break from their daily hardships. The celebration was done in cooperation with another organization, and the attendants were offered special bus rides from all over the country. Hundreds of people came dressed in costumes and enjoyed a nice meal, a costume competition, and a raffle with prizes.

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Recently we visited a sweet family of new immigrants from Ethiopia. The mother, Miriam*, welcomed us into her home. She is a beautiful and intelligent woman with a big smile, who shared with us her family's difficulties.

The family of four lives in a small storage room that was converted into a living quarter. There is one small bedroom, where the parents and children sleep in one bed, along with a living room and a tiny kitchen. The apartment is lacking basic electrical appliances, as well as furniture such as closets, a dining table, and chairs.

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Barry Segal recently met with the organization that oversees the Holocaust survivors and Holocaust refugees in Israel. He was amazed to find out there are still over 200,000 survivors alive in Israel! Of that number, at least 50,000 are living in poverty, and they all mostly have pressing needs. One of these great needs is a special alarm button to be installed in the survivors' apartments that can alert the fire department, first responders, and police in case of an emergency. We at VFI are looking in to seeing how we can help.

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This Purim, Vision for Israel contributed costumes to several places throughout Israel, primarily children's villages who care for children at-risk. Two of these places are Megadim and Neradim.

 

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An elementary school in Jerusalem enrolls 130 students with learning disabilities who come from low socioeconomic backgrounds, many who grow up in boarding schools or foster families. The school acts as a loving home and provides for all their needs. Vision for Israel has been supporting this school for a few years, and we recently donated a visit to the Mini Israel park. It was the first time that the students were able to visit the park.

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We recently received a heartwarming letter from a high school in Jerusalem. The students who attend the technological high school are at high risk and come from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Most of the children come to school without having eaten any breakfast at home, due to financial and functional difficulties in their families. The school requested help from Vision for Israel, and we were able to provide breakfast for the children. Now the students are receiving sandwiches for breakfast, and they are learning much better without suffering from hunger until lunchtime.

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Our team went out to visit Holocaust survivors and give them aid for the winter, which includes radiators and warm blankets. We met precious people who suffer from severe medical problems along with their financial problems and who are still dealing with trauma from the war.

One of the ladies we met is Inna*, a widow who lives alone in a rented apartment off small stipends. Inna suffers from many medical problems and has a caregiver assisting her. She moved to Israel at an old age and has been struggling to learn Hebrew and integrate into Israeli society.

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Holocaust survivors have a special place in our hearts, and we care for them in many different ways. One of the ongoing projects we've been sponsoring is the social gatherings of Cafe Europa, which provides the survivors with a social-cultural meeting, activities, and food.

Last week, Cafe Europa celebrated its ninth year of activity. It was a festive event, with 150 survivors, and a team from VFI present as well. The participants enjoyed a reception with a violinist, lavish refreshments, and a main performance by a unique vocal group called the Jerusalem Barbershop Ensemble.

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During Operation Protective Edge, Vision for Israel donated a hospital bed to the ICU at the Soroka Medical Center. Last week we got to visit the hospital and see the bed in action.

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