The responses have been beyond anything we had hoped for! Over 6,000 calls were received at our Call Center, where both hosts and potential guests shared their requests.
Meni Shalom, in charge of the Center, is overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the calls, the offers, and the effect they have had on him and his team. “All I can say is that we are one special people.” Shalom makes sure to include lists he receives from the Welfare Department, in order to make special “matches” for them as well.
“There are so many special stories unfolding here,” he says.
Here are some examples:
- Lea, an 84-year old Holocaust survivor, called the center. Her husband is deceased and her children are living far away. “For once, I want to celebrate the holiday in a real family atmosphere. Who knows how many more I have left?” Lea asked that we find her a family who lives nearby, since she cannot travel far, due to her age. She was not very hopeful….
Several days later, Shalom and his team found her the “perfect” family. The Morgenstern Family had hoped for many years to host a Holocaust survivor, as their family had been through the horrors of Auschwitz. As Mr. Morgenstern says, “we are not doing Lea a favor. On the contrary, she will be enhancing our family’s holiday by being with us. We want to open our home to her, not just for Pesach, but whenever she needs us.”
- Pnina is a single mother in Nahariya who promised herself and her son, Amir, that they would never be alone. However, her promise became difficult to keep when a family disagreement led to a complete breaking off of contact. When she heard about Meir Panim’s campaign two years ago, she hesitantly picked up the phone. A wonderful relationship ensued with the Aharon Family, who live in the same city. Since that first chag, Pnina and Amir have found real family. They invite her to each of their events, send clothing and call. “I’ve finally found the family I’ve never had.”
- Yarden, 27, lives in Tel Aviv. A genetic disorder has left him blind. Following the economic downturn several years ago, his parents left the country for Australia. Yarden remained behind, living alone with his seeing-eye dog. Since his family’s departure, Yarden has celebrated the chagim on his own. “Since I don’t have the means or the capability to get to a hotel or restaurant, I prefer to stay home.”
This year, however, Yarden decided to call the Meir Panim center. “I was very skeptical. No family would agree to take me and my dog.” Less than 24 hours later, a family was found. The Alfasi family in Holon lost their dog several months ago, and they consider it a double bonus to host Yarden and his dog. The family is planning to personally pick them up and bring them home for the holiday.
“We want him to finally have some light.”