What Would You Have Done?

Written on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009. 9:59 AM
under Volunteering, Food Boxes, Israel's Heroes

| by Braha Bender

What would you have done? A neighbour knocked on the Weisel family’s door asking to borrow a bag of flour. Mrs. Weisel kindly acquiesced, handing the neighbour the bag of flour with a smile. You probably would have done the same.

But the neighbour returned the next evening asking to borrow a carton of milk. What would you have done? Mrs. Weisel, once again, acquiesced with a smile, and ran to the fridge to pull out an extra carton of milk to help out her neighbour. Most of us would have done the same in that situation as well.

On the neighbour’s return the third evening, many of us would probably have wondered, “Can’t she go out and schlep her own groceries?” The neighbour had not returned any of the borrowed items to the Weisel family. All she had done was taking.

By that point most people would probably have begun to feel a little annoyed. Most people might still have handed over the box of cereal or loaf of bread or five onions, but the smile would probably have been gone.

Mrs. Weisel was different than most people. No sharp words were exchanged; the smile never left. When the neighbour’s visits continued on a daily basis for a week, two weeks, and more, without returning a thing, Mrs. Weisel began to realize that her neighbour was simply incapable of purchasing groceries for herself. Her neighbour, and all of her neighbour’s children, was living in poverty.

Again, consider, what would you have done? Even if we had managed not to yell at our neighbour for what seemed to be excessive borrowing, and even if we had managed to look a little deeper into the situation to realize that our neighbour’s financial situation was on the brink, would we have cared enough to do something about it?

Mrs. Weisel began a neighbourhood food drive to discreetly provide her impoverished neighbour with the means to survive. Every week Mrs. Weisel went from door to door collecting food so that her needy neighbour would not have to. Eventually the word spread and neighbours began delivering donated groceries to the Weisel home on their own.

In fact, the word spread so much that Mrs. Weisel began receiving more food than her neighbour needed! Mrs. Weisel did not send it back or call around asking the donors to get out of her hair. Instead, she called around asking whether there were any other needy families who would benefit from a helping hand with their groceries.

Make no mistake – Yad Eliezer did not serve the Weisel family any profit. Yaakov and Hadassa Weisel both worked full time as elementary school teachers. The Weisels had busy lives, busy careers, and children of their own. None of that stopped them. 

With Rabbi and Mrs. Weisel’s initiative, Yad Eliezer was born. Their kindness grew, expanded, and organized itself into what has become the largest charity organization in Israel. Today Yad Eliezer’s nineteen programs touch all facets of Israeli society and bring solace, dignity, and hope to those who might otherwise face much greater adversity. 

But it all began in 1979 with one hungry neighbour. The Weisels opened the door. What would you have done?


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2 COMMENTS

posted by Beverly Kurtin on: Jun 3, 2010 10:09pm

You have no idea of how frustrating it is to get mail asking for donations. I would love to respond to all, it hurts not to be able to accede to the requests; if I did, I would go further into poverty than I already am. I can donate once or twice a year, but last month alone I had over 35 requests for money. Some even had MINIMUM contributions they would accept, starting at $25.00. I am a stroke and heart attack survivor and live on less than $20,000 a year

posted by David Bennett on: Jun 3, 2010 02:07pm

What a beautiful sentiment and what a way to lead a life. Truly inspiring - hard or easy to live up to - it is in the hands of each of us to decide.

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