When Nechama’s husband passed away, the whole community offered comfort and support. But what happened when the shiva is over and everyone went home? The new widow was left bereft, trying to fill the role of both father and mother, breadwinner and home maker, trying to nurture her heartbroken children, and wondering if she will have the strength to rebuild. Those tasks are a lot for anyone, and are enough to topple women struggling with their own grief, some of whom have nursed their husbands through prolonged illness. Nechama was left alone on the battle field. To whom can she turn?
In the months after the shiva Nechama walked around in a stupor, trying desperately to put together the puzzle pieces of her life, but there always seemed to be some essential pieces missing. Some of them were obvious; the love of her life, her closest confidant, and a very involved parent was no longer there to offer support, advice and practical help. But some of the missing pieces were not things that she expected. Her oldest son began struggling with his Gemara class, and she was not able to help him at all. Hiring a tutor was the obvious solution, but the expense was a burden now that she no longer had her husband’s income. She wanted to return to her teaching job, but she no longer was able to leave the house early enough to teach a full day because she had to be there to send off the kids in the morning, and receive them when they came home – jobs that her husband had been able to fit into his schedule. She cut down on her hours, but then had no way to make up the major cut to her paycheck. In order to make sure that her children had the emotional stability and support that they needed, she spent most of the afternoon talking and playing with them, and once they were asleep she needed to prepare classes. There was no time in her schedule to keep up with the housework, and for the first time since she married she considered hiring some help, but once again her shoestring budget couldn’t support it.
Yad Eliezer's Keren Almanos fund provides widows with a monthly stipend that allows them to stay afloat financially and to focus on the needs of their families without fear of hunger and privation. A careful yet respectful investigation allows Yad Eliezer to clarify what the family’s financial needs truly are, and then discretely deposit them in the almana’s bank account each month. Currently the program provides generous stipends to 442 almanos each month with a yearly budget of $3 million. There are an additional 43 almanos who have been approved and are waiting for funding. Our goal is to proactively reach out to every shomer Shabbos almana with young children who is living in Eretz Yisrael and insure that her needs are met.
Leah's husband passed away less than 2 weeks ago after a very brief and traumatic bout with pancreatic cancer. Leah, who is hearing impaired herself, was left alone with 7 children, one of whom requires extensive and costly speech therapy. In addition, Leah is 7 months pregnant with her 8th child. When Yad Eliezer heard about Leah's need, is there any way that we could have turned her away? Where else could she turn? What would become of the children?
When a Yad Eliezer representative visited their home the day after the shiva ended, he wanted to see what the family's needs were, and how Yad Eliezer could be most helpful. He saw a nine year old freshly orphaned boy walking around the apartment and turning off all of the lights. When his sister asked him what he was doing, he answered, “We don’t have anyone to pay our bills now. I don’t know how we will be able to eat next week. But at least I can save electricity.”
Women like Leah and Chava, who are so alone and so vulnerable, are left to care for young orphans. The weight of their responsibilities can be a crushing burden if they have no one to turn to. The generous donations of our partners enable us to sustain and grow this crucial program. As a result, those almonos know that they are no longer alone. Yad Eliezer is there to lighten their burden, and they will not be abandoned.
Aside from the monthly stipend that bereft families receive, they may be eligible for more of Yad Eliezer’s programs, including the Big Brothers and Sisters program, Bar Mitzvah twinning, Food Boxes, Medical Support, Adopt-a-Wedding and Job training.
The Torah teaches us repeatedly to care for widows and orphans, spare them from pain and suffering, and to do all that we can to bring joy to their lives. Yad Eliezer has created a system that provides this essential support with dignity. Join us in this life changing work.