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Ephraim and Esther Yohanan Photo: Roee Idan
Ephraim and Esther Yohanan Photo: Roee Idan
 
 

Volunteers help elderly couple renovate burned down house

Couple whose home destroyed in fire overwhelmed by response from community's help with renovations

Matan Tzuri
Published: 12.29.13, 22:56 / Israel News

An elderly couple returned to their home on Sunday, after storm damages forced them to stay elsewhere, thanks to many helping hands of locals who offered assistance in renovating the couple's house.

 

During the massive storm that hit Israel earlier in December, a great fire broke out in the Ashkelon residentce of Ephraim and Esther Yohanan, both in their 70s, due to storm-induced short circuit.

 

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The fire that engulfed the Yohanans' apartment had destroyed all their belongings. "I felt like my life was over", Ephraim said. The couple, however, did not take into account the numerous well-wishers who heard about the incident and offered to help the two rebuild their lives.

 

While the couple moved temporarily to a hotel room paid by the Ashkelon municipality, residents of the city came to offer their help: contractors volunteered to contribute where they could, others brought the couple new furniture, and the "Shafir" housing rehabilitation company volunteered to renovate the house's foundations — all free of charge.

 

By Sunday night, some 20 days after the fire broke out, the apartment was completely renovated and no trace of the fire that had devastated the Yohanans' home was left.

 

Firefighters from the Ashkelon fire department, residents and repairmen that lent a hand, and the Ashkelon mayor Itamar Shimoni all came to the mezuzah instillation ceremony held in the couple's home. "We feel like we've been reborn", said the couple at the ceremony. "We didn't know that such people exist in Ashkelon."

 

The Yohanan's apartment, destroyed by fire (Photo: Avi Roccah)
The Yohanan's apartment, destroyed by fire (Photo: Avi Roccah)

 

The couple's apartment after renovation, Sunday (Photo: Roee Idan)
The couple's apartment after renovation, Sunday (Photo: Roee Idan)

 

A grateful Ephraim said he could not stress his appreciation enough, as "It's the only house that I lived in since I came here from Iraq. We built it with our own hands, with the little money we saved. When I saw it burning, I felt like my life was over."

 

The Yohanans were seen smiling throughout the entire evening. Esther said: "I still can't believe we're here at home. Many people wanted to help us and everyone wanted to contribute. I applaud them. We received so much love from everyone."

 

 

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