By Rochelle Maruch Miller
The significance of the chagim of Tishrei are so profound they impact every Yiddishe neshamah. Tishrei is the richest month of the year; from the Yomim Noraim to Sukkos, Shemini Atzeres, and Simchas Torah—Zman Simchaseinu—these meaningful and beautiful yom tovim set the tone for the coming year.
For families who have been affected by terror, these are particularly trying times. They are families who lived productive lives, supporting their families, celebrating simchas and milestone events, teaching their children to ride a bike, and gladly helping them with their science fair project. They are parents who were—and remain—a constant source of inspiration, who taught their children about ahavas Yisrael and proudly celebrated every Shabbos and yom tov in style, until a heinous act of terror wreaked havoc upon their lives. Experiencing severe financial hardships, these families who had previously been diligent in performing hiddur mitzvah, have no money for even the basic necessities. Imagine the pressure they face as Tishrei commences and each yom tov approaches.
Ohr Meir U’Bracha, The Terror Victims Support Center, is firmly committed to being a lifeline of support and succor. Among the many programs offered by this exemplary organization are its hallmark weekly Shabbat as well as the special chagim food baskets, which contain all of the required simanim and foods of each yom tov. The baskets, which are assembled by Liora Tedgi, Ohr Meir U’Bracha’s founder and director, and her team of volunteers, are distributed to the families with the utmost degree of dignity and confidentiality.
Each week, Ohr Meir U’Bracha distributes 500 of these baskets to the families of Israel’s victims of terrorist attacks. Before chagim, that number can reach 600.
“When both parents work and earn a salary, that’s okay,” says Liora. “But—I’ll give you an example—the mother of Family X, who was a teacher, was in a bombing and never came back home. Suddenly, the father had to be both a mother and a father to his three little children. And then he had trouble at work so he became depressed. It’s like a vicious circle.”
It is families like these that Liora tries to help. “I give them food and also buy them a washing machine, refrigerator; anything that can help.” She also helps people find job training courses when necessary. “With winter looming in the not too distant future, we have the growing concern of keeping our families warm,” Liora says. This past summer, we took the children for a boat ride on the Kineret. We noticed that some of the children came dressed in boots, not to stay dry but rather because that was the only pair of shoes they owned. What made the situation all the more heartbreaking was that every one of the children had already outgrown the size.”
These families live at the precipice of poverty since the breadwinner of the family is either a victim of terror or has now changed roles as the caretaker for another family member. In either case, this independent family unit is now completely dependent upon the kindness of others.
Last year Ohr Meir U’Bracha ran a successful campaign called “Operation Hot Winter,” where they distributed 1,000 comforters/blankets to children affected by terror. Children from these families sleep in their clothes in order to keep warm. “As winter approaches, we worry about providing the children with warm clothes, blankets, and shoes,” Liora says. “We would be grateful if people could send us packages of these items as long as they are new. We respectfully request that you be kind enough to pay the required taxes for the packages to enter the country. All monetary donations are gratefully accepted.
Please partner with Ohr Meir U’Bracha to provide a family with all of the “special ingredients” needed to celebrate Sukkos in style and with pride by sponsoring a holiday basket for $150. Please mail donations to: 455 Viola Road Spring Valley, New York 10977. For more, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.terror-victims.org.il.