Sep 30, 2022
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June 17, 2022, Jerusalem, Israel …. The shortage of baby formula in the United States is shocking and troubling on many levels. As news of this continued to expand, dual American and Israeli citizen Jonathan Feldstein prayed about what he could do to be of help.  As president of the Genesis 123 Foundation whose mission is to build bridges between Jews and Christians, Feldstein, an Orthodox Jew, decided to take action.

“I was troubled to hear about the major shortage of baby formula, and people turning to every means to get the precious powder that keeps their children nourished and even alive.  I recall stories of my grandfather dealing in black-market bananas in order to help my grandmother who had a potassium shortage. More recently, before my second grandson started eating solid food, for much of his life he was using a particular formula that was non-dairy, non-soy, and not cheap, and absolutely necessary for him to thrive.  I cannot imagine being a parent of a baby for whom there is simply no formula available.  If it were me, I’d turn to a black market if needed, drive to another state, or even fly overseas to get my baby what it needed.”

Representing the Genesis 123 Foundation, Feldstein was planning a trip to the US from his home in Isael and decided to bring baby formula with him as Israeli grocery store shelves are fully stocked. In the end, the little idea enlisted the help of others with no connection in the US at all, including getting a discount from a major Israeli grocery store chain.  Feldstein arrived last week with some 200 pounds of baby formula, over $2200 worth, which he gave to two major churches in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The Genesis 123 Foundation derives its name from the verse in Genesis 12:3 where God promises that He will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel.  Bringing the formula from Israel is a realization of the conclusion of that verse, that Israel will be a blessing to the families of the world.  Feldstein realized that this is literally the fulfillment of blessing the families.  It’s particularly heartwarming that a number of families will have containers of baby formula with Hebrew writing sitting on their kitchen counters, the same letters in which the original verses in Genesis are written.

Pastor Trey Graham of First Melissa Church in Melissa, TX is also an advisory board member of the Genesis 123 Foundation and one of the people to whom Feldstein turned to share the idea and offer help. “In difficult days, people who love God and care about others find ways to help. The Genesis 123 Foundation has earned a reputation of meeting needs, often on short notice. In the past, those efforts understandably largely focused on needs in Israel. But, with the alarming shortage of baby formula in the United States, Jonathan Feldstein and the Genesis 123 Foundation expanded their reach and found a way to bless new recipients, Christians in Texas.  I appreciate Jonathan’s willingness to help, and our church family is blessed to partner with the Genesis 123 Foundation.”

Through this, Feldstein had the opportunity to teach many Christians the Hebrew word “chesed,” or kindness.  It’s not a word printed on the containers of formula, but it is a word that will be ingested with every bottle of formula. With a mission to build bridges between Jews and Christians, the Genesis 123 Foundation, didn’t plan to do this, but there are few things more than this that embody the ability to make a meaningful, tangible difference, on a human level and as a blessing from Israel.

An introduction was made and a new relationship was developed with New Beginnings Church which also received much of the formula.  Pastor Wanderson and Pabliana Franco received two suitcases full of formula. “On behalf of our Pastors Larry and Tiz Huch and New Beginnings Church, we thank Genesis 123 for the baby formula. We know that God will bless those who bless Israel and that this project is the perfect example. As we stand in support of Israel, now Israel is blessing us. It makes a huge difference that Jonathan and the Genesis 123 Foundation made this possible.”

Other than the board giving its blessing, the special delivery from Israel became a labor of love involving many others. Feldstein’s Israeli neighbors offered suitcases in which to pack and deliver the formula.  They thanked him for letting them participate in this “chesed.”

Israelis started asking how they could donate to be part of this.  Another Jewish friend of Feldstein who was also traveling to the U.S. heard about and was inspired to bring a suitcase full of formula to a pastor in Phoenix who works with Feldstein.

One of the Genesis 123 board members in the U.S. was so encouraging and grateful that she made an extra donation, and encouraged the organization to offer others the opportunity to be able to donate as well.  Feldstein thought that if enough money was raised and he could find a flight that’s not too expensive, it would be worth making another trip just to do this, paying for another special delivery from Israel. As happy as he was to do this, Feldstein summed up, “I pray that by the time I’d be able to make another flight, the formula shortage in the US will be resolved, and parents can rest easier.”  Until then, maybe you’ll see him carrying along an extra suitcase of formula to be a blessing to the families in need sooner than later.