WHO IS AITZA L'CHAIM?
Here is some information on who I am and how I came to create the one man Tzedaka organization Aitza L'Chaim.
Seven years ago, at the age of fifty, I came from Australia to Israel to marry Devorah, who is a candle designer in the spiritual city of Tzfat in the north of Israel. We have between us, five children and eight grandchildren.
My early career involved sales, management and training. I have worked for almost six years as a mentor and counselor at a school in Tzfat for American, English and Australian boys at risk. Many of the boys arrive at the school deeply troubled and some have drug and serious family related issues.
Counseling the boys is extremely satisfying. Being an unabashed optimist, my joyful approach sometimes finds me dancing in the street. I have been
a guest speaker on matters of family relationships, happiness, drugs and alcohol and have spoken in a number of schools and synagogues around the world.
Addressing high school students on the anti drug topic of "Don't take the first puff--.Don't take the first sip!" is one of my popular talks and a number of schools ask me to give it to the new senior boys each year. The topic "How to Love the 'Unlovable' " is for adults, especially parents with difficult kids and I enjoy addressing the audience questions and talking to them about their personal issues.
People have always sought my advice. I try to listen with empathy and understanding and to really hear what people are saying.
After the recent war in Israel I found that many people here were suffering severe emotional and financial difficulties. Some of the situations I found were impossible to believe. Here in modern day Israel were people who had worked for years to create a good life for their families and suddenly found themselves trying to live off a pittance. I found families who because of financial breakdown, due to health problems or resulting from the war or because of the paucity of government support, who had spent months with no electricity, had no food for Shabbat unless it was gifted from neighbors, no telephone, children with no shoes, and other heart rending situations.
My response was to create a one man non-profit, Aitza L'Chaim (Advice for Life), in order to help them with advice on their personal problems and to receive and distribute donations for people with financial, health and employment troubles.
FAMILIES THAT AITZA L'CHAIM HAS HELPED.
When Mrs. D. received food certificates from Aitza L'Chaim she immediately called me to say thanks. "Since my husband left home, my family hasn't had a proper Shabbat meal." This week will be our first real Shabbat in months. But don’t send us any more. We'll be ok for a few weeks now. There are many in town worse off than us. Can you please call Mrs S. She is in a really desperate situation.
So I spoke to Mrs. S. and she told me her painful story:
Mr. and Mrs. S have been happily married for many years and have ten kids from age five to seventeen. Mr. S. had a good technician's job in Jerusalem until 5 years ago, when the government closed down the radio stations he worked for. Unable to find work there, the family decided to move to the north. In Tzfat he became a clothing wholesaler using some of their savings to buy stock. He worked at this for several years but lost most of his savings. Unable to invest further, he started a small building project, but again he lost money. When other attempts to create a business were unsuccessful became a mashgiach (Kashrut Inspector) in a restaurant. After three months the restaurant closed. Nothing that he did seemed to turn out right.
Mr. S. became extremely agitated to the point where his health suffered and he became unable to even go to job interviews. He had worked so hard and yet had lost the family's savings and he had developed a phobia to meeting people or to leaving the security of his home. The National Insurance organization stopped sending payments after a few months because he became too frightened to go to their offices and the bureaucratic rules say that you must come to the office to claim every month. He is afraid to get proof of his ill health from a doctor as he fears that a doctor would take him away from his family and put him in a mental hospital.
The oldest daughter has part time work and gives all of her salary to her parents. It is not enough to keep the family of twelve in breakfast cereal for the month.
When I spoke to Mrs. S. the some months ago their electricity payments were five months in arrears and the electricity had been cut off. They owed three months rent and their children were without needed school text books. They have a fifteen year old van which they have tried to sell and it sits outside their home, unused because they can't afford to buy gas.
Aitza L'Chaim paid a month's rent for them. We paid several thousand shekels to have their electricity reconnected. We provided funds for the kid's text books and food certificates. We are also trying to help sell the car and will arrange for a friendly private doctor to call to his home. Perhaps with his help we can get the family back onto some National Insurance payments which would partially help with their needs.
THE RECENT WORK OF AITZA L"CHAIM?
In addition to the above, in the last few months as a result of our donors' generosity, Aitza L'Chaim has managed to help people in the following ways:
* Several thousand shekels worth of shopping vouchers and cash gifts are distributed to families in the north each month.
* A Tzfat family with nine children, whose refrigerator was not working because it had had holes in the door and sides for over a year. The refrigerator has been repaired and is now in good working order. We also filled the fridge with basis necessities.
* A number of telephone accounts were paid to reconnect family phones.
* Aitza L'Chaim gave a three day respite break to two mothers with large families in a hotel by the Dead Sea so that they could regain their emotional and physical strength.
* A mother with seven children had most of her diseased teeth removed but the dentist wouldn't supply new teeth until her old account was paid. Aitza L'Chaim paid the dentist seven thousand shekels, (7,000 NIS = $1605 US) and the mother had new teeth for Pesach.
* A family here has a child under one year old with a muscular disease. He needs therapy at the local hospital three times a week. The family was unable to afford fares to the hospital and back, so the child was not receiving his therapy sessions and his condition was deteriorating. Aitza L'Chaim found a donor who has paid fares for the mother and child to attend the hospital three times a week for the next year.
* Free counseling was given to many in need.
FULL FRIDGE FOR SHABBAT PROGRAM
Become a partner in this vital work in Israel.
I invite you to invest in the Aitza L'Chaim, 'Full Fridge For Shabbat Campaign', which begins 1st August.
In Israel, the level of poverty is growing dramatically. A recent government survey revealed that over one third of Israel's children are living in poverty. According the survey, almost 20% of Israeli children go to bed hungry at least one night a week. Social Services cutbacks in child support payments over recent years have added dramatically to this increasing problem. Here in the beautiful, holy city of Tzfat where there is also high unemployment, there are many families that do not have a proper sustaining meal each day.
We are determined to help as many families as possible to feed their kids!
I appeal to the wonderful Lamed Vuvniks to join in this campaign to really make a difference in a very human sense to the lives of these
Please send your tax deductible donation either by check or credit card to:
The Derech Elokim Fund
c/o Louis Berlin
19651 NE 19th PL
Miami, Fl 33179
Please specify 'Aitza L'Chaim' on your check or on the donor form.
For further information about our work feel free to send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you so much for you generous donation to Jewish families in serious need.