Homecare cup of tea
By: Corrie van Maanen

It was early morning when I set off to visit Sveta recently. She lives with her extended family in a small apartment in a deprived neighbourhood near Jerusalem. I have known the family since 1998, three months after they made Aliyah to Israel. 

Sveta’s husband had a desire to join the many Soviet Jews making their way to Israel during the 1990s. However, he struggled in a low-paying job to support the family, which by then included seven children. When the couple heard that the Christian Embassy was supporting Soviet Jews, they tentatively approached us for help. Since that day, ICEJ Homecare has been there for them in their ongoing struggles. 

The family soon grew to ten children and for years we supported them by providing monthly groceries, paying dental bills, and purchasing an extra cupboard, bed linens, shoes, or children’s toys. They knew to call on us if there was an urgent need or a joy to share. 

 “Your help has always been given with a positive encouragement and a big loving heart”, Sveta said during my visit. 

Many years ago, she mentioned in a moment of despair how “all social workers give up on us, but ICEJ Homecare continues to faithfully help us.” Indeed, faithfulness is one of the hallmarks of the Homecare program, because we represent a faithful God who does not give up on people. 

Sveta’s family made Aliyah together with her husband’s parents. A few years later his father died, so his mother Maya came to live with Sveta and her husband and the many children still at home in their crowded, subsidized apartment. Love for each other knitted them together and there was still room for everyone in their tiny home. 

Maya had experienced the darkness of the Second World War. At that time, her father was taken away by the Stalin regime, so she lived with her mother, two-year-old sister Luda and two cousins in a small house in the north Caucasus. Maya was about 11 years old when the Germans occupied the area in 1942 and took everything they had. The Nazis continuously harassed them. Quite often, they came to the house looking for food and checking that the family was not hiding anyone. Although Maya was still in her early teens, she was very afraid the Nazi soldiers might force themselves on her. So every day, she whipped herself with a nettle to make her skin look red and sickly. Like all the young girls, she also shaved her head and tried to avoid the Nazis. They lived in constant hunger and the children often went to the forest to find berries and edible roots. They experienced great famine through this dark period but survived and moved to Latvia after the war. 

There, Maya married her Jewish husband, a journalist, and they had two children. From Latvia, they made Aliyah and – like Ruth in the Bible – she made her husband’s people hers, embracing life in Israel, loving every day she could watch her grandchildren being born and growing up in the Land. Now 95, she is in the last season of her life. Loved by her son and beautifully cared for by her daughter-in-law. 

That recent morning, I administered the nursing care Maya’s frail body needs. After the work, sitting beside her bed together with Sveta, we drank a cup of tea. I told her I would like to share her family story with ICEJ supporters around the world. Her face began to shine. 

“Tell them that I thank you that you believe in us and love us and this is not unnoticed. I thank the God of Israel from the bottom of my heart for your precious friends”, gushed Sveta.  

Dear Christian friends, this is another story of how ICEJ Homecare is there without hesitation to share our love and assistance with a family handpicked by the God of Israel, who were once in peril and uprooted by great evil but found their roots in the Jewish soil of Israel. 

Thank you for supporting the work of Homecare. You can help us do more by giving at:  give.icej.org/homecare