With Israel’s latest National Insurance Institute finding that 1.7 million Israeli citizens live below the poverty line, expecting that an individual can make a difference to someone’s life of hardship might seem an impossibility. Yet, for Aryeh Weingarten, Director of the Karmey Chesed charity organization, working around-the-clock to provide for Israel’s needy is something he cannot walk away from.
Karmey Chesed is a small, Israel-based charity with an all volunteer staff. This keeps overhead costs down and assures that donated funds go directly to helping those in need.
“Desperate people call me day and night,” shared Weingarten to Breaking Israel News.
“Karmey Chesed does all that it can to provide struggling individuals and families with what they urgently need including clothing, food, furniture, medicine, financial assistance and friendship.”
But, the assistance does not stop there. Weingarten generously gives out his personal cell phone number and has an open door policy with his own home. “I help people who are in dire straights,” he explained. “We can’t just cut them off.”
Sharing a few stories with Breaking Israel News, it is clear that Karmey Chesed takes people’s troubles and challenges very seriously. Weingarten revealed that he will even escort people who are drowning in debt to the bank to help them negotiate better terms to repay loans.
“Karmey Chesed knows first-hand the struggles of the people who approach us,” Weingarten stated. “One of our families was in serious debt. They owed the bank NIS 85,000 (about $22,400). We explained the desperate circumstances that this family was living under and the bank reduced the loan to NIS 30,000 (about $7,900). Now we are trying to raise the funds to help them pay this off.”
Through the extensive measures that Karmey Chesed takes in order to help the needy and downtrodden, it became clear to Weingarten that many people are desperate for emotional as well as physical support. “Sometimes, people just need someone to talk to,” said Weingarten to Breaking Israel News. “I learn what people need by spending a few minutes with them over a cup of coffee.”
That emotional support and personal connection led Karmey Chesed to a very poor family whose mother was depressed and wanted to commit suicide. She has eight children and no money. Her husband came to Weingarten’s home in hysterics and explained the extent of his pain and the challenges he was facing with his wife.
“This woman refused to leave their home or take help from anyone except Karmey Chesed,” explained Weingarten to Breaking Israel News. “I had to do something to ease their pain. I did some research and found an over the counter remedy which was known to ease depression. Since they could not afford the remedy themselves, Karmey Chesed bought it for them.”
Weingarten was happy to report that the woman is now feeling better. “They give Karmey Chesed credit for helping to save their family structure,” he noted. “But, it hurts that we cannot do more. People need to understand how desperate the need is and that Karmey Chesed will do everything possible to personally help those in need as long as we have the funds to do so.”