Unfortunately, in Israel today one in three children lives below the poverty line, and there are thousands more families in the former Soviet Union who are in desperate need with no resources to celebrate the Passover holiday.
Many are elderly Holocaust survivors living in shocking poverty who have no family and are barely getting by on social security.
"For these men and women, being able to purchase the special foods needed to observe Passover is out of the question," Rabbi Eckstein said. "In fact, many must make heart-rending choices every day between buying food or medicine, paying the rent, or keeping themselves warm."
The IFCJ and its partner organizations in Israel and the former Soviet Union distributed a total of about 40,000 food boxes with nutritious foods for the traditional Seder meal, plus basic food essentials.
IFCJ programs such as this that offer food, shelter, and education to the needy are provided year-round and are supported primarily by Christians in the United States and Canada.
About one-third of the distribution will go to Jewish homes in Israel where the IFCJ, with Colel Chabad, Yad B'Yad, and Latet, is delivering 11,000 food boxes in Jerusalem and other cities where the need is greatest.
Also, the IFCJ is giving out 1,518 food boxes to elderly Holocaust survivors in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and 10 other towns and regions across Israel. The boxes include fresh produce, matzah, canned food, salt, sugar, matzah flour, mayonnaise, wine, and juice.
To help isolated and needy Jews in the former Soviet Union, the remaining two-thirds of the distribution, or approximately 28,000 food boxes, are being delivered before Passover with the help of partners Chamah and the Federation of Jewish Communities (FJCIS).
More than half (15,000 packages) are being given to poverty-stricken families in Moscow alone. The boxes contain kosher products, including matzah and grape juice for the Seder, plus vegetables, beans, potato flour, and other food staples.
1st Seder in Israel for Ethiopian Jews
In addition to the food distribution project, the IFCJ, together with the Jewish Agency for Israel, provided a Seder meal to 5,500 Ethiopian immigrants in sixteen absorption centers throughout Israel where they live while learning the language, Israeli culture, and job skills.
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