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: In the News

Charity Organization In Israel Nullifies All Debts in Observance of Shmittah

By Rafi Poch, Breaking Israel News

As the shmittah year comes to a close, one of the most prominent charity organizations in Israel is observing a rare biblical commandment to nullify debts. Karmey Chesed, an organization which lends money to individuals who come from low income backgrounds, or who have fallen on hard times, will be enacting the biblical law to its full extent.

The observance of shmittah has several dimensions, one of which is the waiving of all outstanding debts, which is always done at the end of the shmittah year. In modern times, to help prevent economic difficulties, a halachic mechanism called pruzbul circumvents this loan amnesty. However, many rabbinic leaders believe that wherever one can follow the biblical rule, it is best to do so.

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Charity Organization Allows Farmers to Observe Shmittah Without Financial Loss

By Rafi Poch, Breaking Israel News

With the end of the shmittah (sabbatical) year, Karmey Chesed is making a special effort to help farmers who are having financial difficulties as a result of keeping the biblical laws of shmittah.

The shmittah year can be a trying one for farmers in Israel who desire to adhere to the biblical commandments properly, as they are required to let their land lie fallow for the entirety of the year. Karmey Chesed is donating tens of thousands of shekels to shmittah farmers to help alleviate any financial hardship they may have incurred by keeping the sabbatical year.

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Karmey Chesed Helps Destitute Family Keep Hope Alive

By Rafi Poch, Breaking Israel News

Karmey Chesed has begun a crowdfunding campaign to help a destitute Jewish family living in Israel. The campaign, which uses a pseudonym to protect the privacy of the family, is not something that the organization does for every family that they help. Due to their dire need, this family has warranted special attention which goes beyond the general help that Karmey Chesed usually offers.

The organization spends tremendous amount of effort helping families all across Israel, in addition to soldiers and Jews who were expelled from Gush Katif. The help that Karmey Chesed gives to these families, individuals, soldiers, and Gush Katif evacuees is both financial and practical, providing those in need with necessities in addition to monetary aid. This includes furniture, appliances such as refrigerators, ovens, and anything else that families may need.

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Repairing the Wounds of Gush Katif Through “God’s Work”

By Rafi Poch, Breaking Israel News

Ten years ago, the government of Israel made a unilateral decision, now widely criticized, to disengage from the Gaza Strip, forcing approximately 9,000 Jews to leave their homes with the intention of calming tensions in the Gaza area and giving Palestinians a place of their own. The move has since been condemned both in terms of the security issues that arose, including three armed conflicts, and in terms of how the government treated the evacuees.

Eitan Shimoni, son of the former head of Gush Katif regional council Avner Shimoni, told Breaking Israel News about some of the struggles that the evacuees faced in the aftermath of the expulsion. “The government took a lot of very pro-state, pro-Israel people out of their homes and simply left them by the wayside, with nothing,” he said. Some of the examples Shimoni gave are heart-rending stories describing the disenchantment of a generation.

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Victims of the Peace Process: Gush Katif 10 Years Later

By Rafi Poch, Breaking Israel News

For many former Gush Katif residents, the day of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, 10 years ago next month, was the day they lost all faith and trust in the Israeli government.

“There’s a lot of bitterness” remaining, said Oreet Segal, a former resident of the Gush Katif community of Ganei Tal. “The government promised a lot of things, but it was just a PR stunt.”

The ordeal began in 2003, when the Israeli Knesset adopted then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s unilateral disengagement plan. In an effort, later proved fruitless, to “unfreeze” the peace process with the Palestinians, Sharon proposed a plan to withdraw all Israeli presence from Gaza, including dismantling the 21 communities which had been part of a settlement bloc built in the 1970s and 1980s.

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A Decade Later, Gush Katif Evacuees Still Struggling to Rebuild Their Lives

By Rafi Poch, Breaking Israel News

Ten years after the Israeli disengagement from Gaza, thousands of former Gush Katif residents are still struggling to rebuild their lives.

Gush Katif, which was a bloc made up of 21 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, was evacuated as part of the 2005 Israeli disengagement plan from Gaza, intended to help pave the way to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

8,500 people lived and worked in Gush Katif, mainly in agriculture, with hundreds of acres of hothouses that provided a large portion of the country’s crops and flowers. Every single resident were forced out, with their homes and communities destroyed during the withdrawal.

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Giving a Future to At-Risk-Youth in Israel

By Rafi Poch, Breaking Israel News

The statement “Our children are our future” is not one that is foreign to most people. In Israel, extra care is placed upon the next generation in almost every aspect of society, from interior infrastructure, to unique laws providing free daycare for all children up to age three. So why are almost 15 percent of youth in Israel considered to be at-risk?

Yisrael Cohen, who works at a youth home that preferred to remain nameless because it works with at-risk youth, extolled the generosity and accomplishments of the organization. “Karmey Chesed, helps us work within the families within the homes, where these problems start. They help provide the families with whatever they need — money, food, clothing, furniture — and this alleviates a lot of the difficulties that these families, and the children specifically, have.”

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3,000 Children in Need from Israel to Gather in Unique Lag B’Omer Event

By Rafi Poch, Breaking Israel News

There are many children who live in need throughout Israel. What is worse is that many of them don’t have to.

Among the children who are most in need are those whose families were expelled from Gush Katif in 2005. Families who were productive, self supporting and contributing members to society had everything ripped away from them by the government all in the name of a peace which never occurred and a political move that created havoc for Israel’s security for the past decade.

Today, the youngest child expelled from Gush Katif is 10-years-old. Many of these children and their families are living below the poverty line. Without a business, without credit and without a home these families were forced to scrape by and have been kept in poverty due to the decade old political move.

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On Passover, Who Will Feed Israel’s Poor?

By Rafi Poch, Breaking Israel News

As the holiday of Passover quickly approaches, one of the important aspects of the holiday is to fulfill the biblical commandment of giving charity so that the poorer among the nation of Israel may have enough means to purchase all of the food they need for the holiday.

The Bible commands the Jewish nation to eat unleavened bread, or matzah, for seven days. As the price of matzot (plural of matzah) as well as wine and other staples for the holiday can be very costly, each person, no matter how rich or poor, is commanded to partake of the seder night and feast.

The custom accepted by most homes in Israel and abroad is to eat handmade, specially watched matzot for the seder night and use the cheaper, machine made matzot for the remainder of the holiday.

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Purim Miracles Happening Now in Israel

By Rafi Poch, Breaking Israel News

Shlomo Yarimi of Yad Binyamin, a small town along Israel’s coastal plain, runs an organization handing out free food and used furniture to those in need.

Yarimi’s gemach, or benefit society, was originally founded in Gush Katif prior to the disengagement in 2005. When forced from the area, Shlomo Yarimi’s family, along with some 9,500 people, had to pick up and start their lives over in a new place.

Even though he was no longer living in Gush Katif, Yarimi vowed to continue his humanitarian work and help Gush katif refugees as well as others in Israeli society.

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