By: Laurina Driesse

During the ICEJ’s Feast of Tabernacles each year, Israeli Guest Night is a very special evening when local Israelis join us for a program of music, dancing and solidarity with Israel.

Besides her many other duties at the Feast, Homecare nurse Corrie van Maanen always makes an extra effort to bring many of the elderly and disabled Russian Jewish immigrants she cares for year-round to Israeli Guest Night. They often come in wheelchairs, to take part in the joyful celebration with thousands of Christians from the nations. But due to the Coronavirus, that was not possible this year, and instead Corrie brought the joy of the Feast right into their homes during Sukkot. She lovingly prepared gift baskets filled with pomegranates, grapes, dates and chocolates, and picked up freshly baked pastries along the way.

Visiting Luda, Corrie delivered the gift basket and surprised her with several songs on the flute. Luda was overjoyed! “I want to record it and share it with all my friends”, said Luda, who has attended Israeli Guest Night for many years. She has no family here and often feels alone. Drinking coffee together, Luda shared, “I am missing out on sitting in a sukkah. I hear my Jewish neighbours, but I cannot join them.” Suddenly, she realised “we have our own sukkah this morning here in my kitchen!” Corrie was touched by how her small gestures turned into an unforgettable moment for Luda.

Corrie playing the flute for Luda

For Tanja, this year’s Sukkot was particularly difficult as the lockdown prevented her from spending the holiday with her son and grandchildren. But when Corrie arrived at her door, bearing the gift basket and pastries, Tanja instantly brightened up. As Corrie played her flute, Tanja said: “You have made me happy. For many years we have celebrated with thousands, but today is a Feast shared with one and maybe it is more important to me, because you brought me such joy.”

Corrie next visited Lena, a widow struggling with severe depression. With the strict lockdown, she had not left her home or spoken to anyone for days. Grateful for the gift basket and pastries, Lena poured them some tea and spoke of her loneliness, especially during the Sukkot holidays. Cautiously, Corrie offered to play her flute. Very soon, a glimmer of joy returned to Lena as she clapped after each song. One song referred to a fountain of blessing and Corrie prayed for her soul to be like a fountain of blessing this year. Lena was truly lifted by the surprise visit and “chamber concert”, in place of attending the Feast.