Uh, ummm....I seem to be plagiarizing a bit this week, but in this case, it's worthwhile. Forgive the copycatting but please take a look.
Thank you, Balaboosta, for the tip and link, and Jameel, for the article. It's very cold in Jerusalem right now -- cold and crisp and bitter if you are one of those without heat. The north is cold, too, and the Galil has those winds that howl down from the Asian steppes.
My gas bill for a small two-bedroom was 250 NIS (and the Junkers were only on for part of the month--the average Junkers costs 1,000 NIS per month and that's with conservation--two hours in the morning and 4 hours at night) and the electric was 597 NIS. That's a tad bit more than $400/month if I've done the math right.....the families helped by Warm The Needy are staying warm on half that amount, so they're conserving even more than we're conserving. A LOT of poor families in Israel struggle to get by on 2000 NIS/month -- around $500 approximately.
The middle class in Israel is reportedly shrinking and those who fall out of that class are falling into the lower class--the working poor of Israel. Those are the folks making less than 8,200 NIS/month (roughly $2,500). They're supporting families of 3, 4 or more children plus buying groceries, paying for school books, paying for day care, putting gas in the car (if they have a car), paying the mortgage or rent, and paying their utilities. (Check out Ha'Aretz's article on this at http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/813340.html)
It's a fragile economic balance--and if one parent becomes ill, if there is a divorce, if one parent is laid off, the family economy crashes. So when the crunch comes, what gets cut?
The heat. The lights. The food. The clothes.
Warm the Needy
--Special Advertisement –-
As Jameel will tell you, in Israel, Milluim (army reserve duty) in the winter is cold, Milluim in the winter is wet, but most of all, it’s cold outside.
If you’re lucky enough to be on a base in a group tent, your tent might have a kerosene heater. But, if you’re out in the field, its winter jackets, long johns, and two pairs of socks every night.
But imagine for a second this isn’t milluim. It’s Israel, it’s your home, it’s winter and it’s cold inside your house.
Thousands of Israeli families can’t afford to heat their homes in the winter. Many of them can’t afford heaters and radiators. Those that do, can’t afford to pay the electric bill that goes along with it.
In 2005, 7,200 families had their electricity cut off in the winter when they couldn’t pay the electric bill.
So instead, they sleep at night in their jackets and winter clothing.
A few years ago (in 2003), a young American Chassid (Hershel Puretz) living in Jerusalem saw a few families in this bad situation and decided to do something about it.
At first it started quite simply, he got heaters for those needy families.
He helped a few families that first year.
But then it grew larger, so he found donors and an electrical appliance store happy to help subsidize part of the cost of the heaters. Those that needed a heater could buy with pride a subsidized heater to warm their home.
Then he saw that this problem was bigger than he imagined.
He formed “WarmTheNeedy.org”, and started helping even more poor families.
Suddenly he came across a new problem. The electric bills for running the heaters in the winter were far beyond the means of many of these families to pay.
So, he worked out a deal with the Israeli Electric Company (IEC) where he directly subsidizes the bills for these poor families. The IEC now directs cases to WarmTheNeedy.org when the IEC thinks they need external help.
What started off as a few families, grew to over 1000 families in 2006 receiving heaters! And nearly 1500 families having their electric bill directly subsidized!
In fact, with the help of donors, WarmTheNeedy.org has subsidized electric bills for some 2000 families to a tune of $100,000!
This organization is staffed completely by volunteers and 100% of the money goes to helping the families. It is registered 501(c)(3) in the United States.
WarmTheNeedy.org expects to help 2000 families this winter, but they need your help to keep these families warm.
Please visit their site, learn more about what they are doing, and how you can help.
And please help. It’s going to be a very cold winter this year.
Check it out: http://www.warmtheneedy.org/ or simply hit the title above which has the link in it.