Twenty-three year old Moshe Solomon (pseudonym) carries the weight of his large family on his shoulders. Originally from Ethiopia, he is one of six children, all of whom live with their single mother.
“We moved to Israel in 2002,” he told Breaking Israel News. “But our father stayed in Ethiopia and we no longer have contact with him.”
Though robust in Ethiopia, the stress of maintaining a family alone in a foreign land was more than Moshe’s mother could handle. Today, she suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure, weight control issues and is trying to recover from breaking her ribs. When analyzing the ribs, radiologists spotted two tumors.
“My siblings and I had to learn to take care for each other when our mother got so sick,” explained Moshe to Breaking Israel News. “Who did we have to turn to?”
When in Ethiopia, the Jews referred to themselves as “Beta Israel”, meaning “the House of Israel”. However, others commonly referred to them as “Falashas”, meaning “wanderers” or “outsiders”. In Israel, these same people call themselves Ethiopian Jews, striving to express their equality with other Jews and rejecting the stigma that they held in Ethiopia.
However, a Bank of Israel report from 2006 found that absorption of Ethiopians into Israeli society was difficult to accomplish. 51.7 percent of Ethiopian families were living in poverty as opposed to 15.8 percent of the general population. The rate of unemployment amongst Ethiopians was estimated at about 13.2 percent, as compared with 7.4 percent in the general Israeli population.
“When my older siblings and I joined the Israeli army (IDF), we asked for assistance,” continued Moshe to Breaking Israel News. “What we received was a drop in the bucket for what we needed to survive.”
Moshe started begging for help, to little avail, and struggled to work part-time while serving in the IDF. “I took off as many days as I possibly could from my army service in order to help my family pay their bills and get rid of our debt,” he shared. “It was incredibly challenging.”
Desperate, Moshe started to surf the Internet for organizations that help soldiers or Ethiopian immigrants. Fortunately for the Solomon family, Moshe discovered Karmey Chesed, a small Israel-based charity organization with a big heart.
“When I contacted Karmey Chesed, the director, Aryeh Weingarten, answered the phone,” continued Moshe to Breaking Israel News. “He was really nice and said that he would help my family in any way that he could or would send me to the right people who would help us.”
Not only did Karmey Chesed help the Solomon family pay their outstanding bills, it also provided food, quality second-hand furniture which had been refurbished through their “Green Charity” program, and urgently needed appliances. In addition, Weingarten called Moshe every day to inquire how he and his family were coping under so much stress and always asked what else was needed to ease their plight.
“At first I was really surprised and a bit scared that someone was suddenly taking such a strong interest in helping and caring for us,” Moshe shared with Breaking Israel News. “Aryeh was offering so much help without knowing me well. But then I realized that here was a man doing everything he could straight from his loving heart. He has made my family and I very happy and we are so appreciative.”
Now that some of the Solomon’s financial burdens have been eased, Moshe hopes to take educational courses in order to make a respectable living in Israel.