Television personality Fred Rogers was quoted as saying, when in difficult times, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
We see so much poverty, so much needless suffering, yet here in Israel it doesn’t take long to find people will to help. One of those people is Aryeh Weingarten, founder of the charity Karmey Chesed, literally translated as Vineyards of Kindness.
The charity began in response to Aryeh witnessing the endless suffering of his neighbors in Beitar, where it seemed everyone around him was being buried under a mountain of debt. Karmey Chesed, with its group of dedicated volunteers, helps those most vulnerable with a range of programs, including supporting IDF soldiers, distributing food and clothing, purchasing emergency prescription drugs, and offering emotional support, which is often overlooked in these times of hardship.
Though Aryeh’s work began in his community, he did not limit his efforts to his neighbors or fellow Haredim, but began reaching out to people who had been victims of injustice. One of these was a bus driver-turned-hero who was left disabled after a terrorist attack. During the seven difficult years it took for Bituach Leumi, Israel’s national insurance institute, to respond to his needs, Karmey Chesed worked tirelessly to ensure that the bus driver had enough food, clothing and medication.
Others that received help from Karmey Chesed were 11 members of the Katz family, who were living in a small, run-down apartment, with peeling paint, crumbling walls and no electricity. Learning about the dire situation facing the Katz family, an emergency fundraising campaign was started, with Karmey Chesed collecting close to $1,500 for the family. The funds were used to pay the family’s utility bills, and restore electricity and water.
Without the hard work and dedication of Aryeh, his group of dedicated volunteers and their much-needed donations from the public, these people and many more would continue to live under these tragic circumstances. To find out how you can help, visit: www.karmeyhesed.org