| Signing agreement
Philanthropic efforts on behalf of Israel are not new to the Jews of the
diaspora. Even before 1948, blue and white pushkes [charity box] were familiar
in most Jewish homes. They would be filled with dimes and loose change and
eventually collected by the Jewish National Fund and replaced with empty
ones. At black-tie fundraising evenings, pledges of contributions are a familiar
Although donations and contributions
to non-profit organizations (NGO) in Israel certainly exist, times have changed.
Israel also gives back: often in the form of pro bono intellectual
or hands-on volunteer assistance. Some examples include Israeli medical crews
contributing to curbing and curing epidemics, rescuing earthquake victims
as well as Israeli agriculturalists who travel to Third World countries to
train local farmers in the application of desert agriculture. The quiet diplomacy
behind these humanitarian outreach programs forges strong ties between Israel
and other nations.
|Adult-size equipment for a child
Imagine, a Moslem country requesting
aid and guidance in the formation of a non-governmental organization to better
serve its people. The above scenario is happening. On a recent visit to Israel,
Uzbekistan’s Minister of Health approached Yad Sarah, and requested that Yad
Sarah set up a medical equipment loan organization in Uzbekistan, based on
their Jerusalem model. With a population of 25 million, 95% of which is Moslem,
Uzbekistan is the largest country in the CAR (Central Asian Republics). A
country with strong community basis that cares for its handicapped and disabled
members, the makhla [community] is self-governing with an elected
leader. Although hospitals are fairly well-equipped, people do not have access
to medical equipment for use at home. A large number of children are afflicted
with tuberculosis of the bones, a disease that limits physical movement.
The disabled child spends up to three months in the hospital, and then is
sent home for three months. Since wheelchairs, walkers, and even crutches
are not available for home use, the child or youth is confined to the home
and cannot be part of the larger society. Being “home” in such a situation
is often more debilitating than a hospital stay. However, with Yad Sarah’s
medical equipment loan program that situation can certainly be turned around.
Yad Sarah believes that rehabilitation
of the disabled within society is crucial. The organization gives tools –
equipment and know-how — to physically disabled people enabling them to
realize their personal potential and to contribute to society as a whole.
|Jewish patient brought May This Home
Be Blessed prayer with her to hospital
The program in Uzbekistan will receive
joint funding from the Uzbekistan government and the Foreign Ministry of Israel.
of sharing and caring between the Jews and the Uzbekisan is a longstanding
one. Tashkent was once a center of Jewish life, until the Bukharan Jewish
community immigrated to Israel. During World War II, Uzbekistan was active
in helping Jewish refugees and warmly welcomed them into their society.
Today, of the 2.5 million people in Tashkent, 1500 are Jewish.
As Israeli NGOs lend-a-hand around
the world, mutually beneficial relationships are developed on a worldwide
Text by J. Isaacson