A member of the Israeli security forces stands at a security checkpoint near the northern Israeli town of Avivim, close to the border with Lebanon, on September 1, 2019.
Israel is rarely far away from the hearts and minds of pro-Israel Christian advocates in the United States especially during times of heightened security, pending, and active war. For more than a decade, Maasay Yahdav, a US Christian humanitarian aid group, has provided practical aid to thousands of Israelis. Maasay Yahdav, “the work of His Hands” is a little giant of ever-expanding compassionate help.
Bomb shelters will become increasingly important as war footing grows on the Gaza, Lebanon, and Syrian borders. In the last four years, Maasay Yahdav has already raised more than $100,000 to place four portable bomb shelters via the Israeli charity, Operation Life Shield. Each one honors the memory of a life taken by terror: Lt. Hadar Goldin in 2015, Hallel Yaffa Ariel in 2016, Michael Levin in 2017, and Ari Fuld in 2018.
Maasay Yadhav is heading back to Israel in mid-October for the second of two annual trips since 2008. Chairman of the Board and Founding Member Doris Mintz comments, “The dates for our October 2019 trip were already set. We also have an even higher goal to raise $40,000 for a big bomb shelter in Gush Etzion. Friends stand with friends no matter what.” This shelter will be located near Makor Chaim High School in Gush Katif. The plaque affixed to the outside will honor three teenagers kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in 2014: Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel. Ms. Mintz quips, “I love to beg for money” and she means it when it comes to blessing Israel. If you want to be part of remembering the boys, go to www.maasayyahdav.org to donate. Let’s make sure she doesn’t have to beg too much this time around though.
Maasay Yahdav is made up of Christians who do incredible acts of kindness. Maasay Yahdav is felt, appreciated and loved in Israel. I have personally been blessed by Maasay Yahdav with the repeated donations of accessible protective bomb shelters for the families, students, children, and elderly in Southern Israel, living under rocket attack by Hamas terrorists. Shmuel Bowman, Executive Director, Operation Lifeshield
During their last six weeks of preparation, Masaay Yahdav volunteers will button up their astonishing list of outreach items and projects. The organization is not a behemoth of volunteers and wealth by any means but their vigorous commitment makes up for it and gets results. Here is a SHORT list: Haifa Holocaust Survivor Home, hospitals, Beit Singer and Neve Michael Children’s Home, orchard harvests to pick fruit and olives, Israel Defense Forces, serving in soup kitchens, Lone Soldiers, safe house for women children, teens, Domestic Intervention Shelter for Ultra-Orthodox Women, a Youth Village for immigrant children, tenderly ministering to the chronically ill and their families in hospitals, using their hands to clean and fix places for immigrants to live and more.
Everyone active in Maasay Yadav is a volunteer including the 6-member Board. No salaries even here. Reflecting back to their beginnings in 2007, President Alice Long described the conversation of a few women which took place on their way to Ben Gurion Airport. “We had just finished our tour where we saw much more than the biblical, historic sites. While our small group of women talked, God gently nudged us into action for Israelis in need.” By the time they boarded their flight for the United States, their ideas had coalesced into establishing a humanitarian aid organization to support the Jewish state “serving God’s people in God’s Land.” They officially set up their US humanitarian aid organization in 2008. Isaiah 40:1 expresses the goal of their work: “Comfort, comfort My people says your God.” COMFORT, in capital letters wrapped in practical aid, surely describes the hearts of Maasay Yahdav’s volunteers.
Maasay Yahdav welcomes volunteers that have a yearning to go and minsier to needy people in their beloved Israel. They topped out at 29 on one of their recent trips which are composed of men, women, CEOs, Hispanics, African Americans, retirees, and working people who use their vacations to serve. Down to the last person boarding flights to Tel Aviv, they pay their own way including food, hotels, and ground transportation. Back home in the US, volunteers-almost weekly in several states-busy themselves making quilts, blankets, hats, puppets, and collecting new sheets, new shoes, toiletry items and additional necessities. They make presentations to churches, synagogues, and businesses to raise funds for Medi-cycle Ambulances, Lifeshield Bomb Shelters, and to directly support children and babies.
Early in the humanitarian organization’s history, the women themselves loaded, then dragged 3-4 big canvas duffle bags filled with donations to take on their fight to Israel. Now, they drag 50 duffel bags to the airport! Weeks before their flights, they load-up to drive more than 100 boxes to a large southern Baptist church strategically located in Tennessee which frequently ships their own containers of humanitarian aid to Israel. Maasay Yahdav is much more than statistics though. It’s story after story of Israeli lives and communities which Maasay Yahdav has touched. Here are a few.
Ten years ago, when the humanitarian organization began bringing beautiful “Coverings of Love” quilts to Holocaust survivors, the comfort lodged deep. Maasay Yahdav visited Fannie, a Holocaust survivor at the Haifa Home. Fannie, in her early eighties received the first quilt, made by an 87-year-old woman. Then later, at the suggestion of a Jewish friend, the Maasay Yahdav team delivered a quilt to an elderly Russian couple. When they spread the quilt on their bed, the couple burst into tears. Everyone cried that day. Ms. Mintz commented, “Right there in those moments I fully realized how important it is to stand with Israel.”
On the next trip, the team brought more quilts. In a suggestion from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem staff they delivered a quilt to a Holocaust survivor who lived alone in a small apartment. When they unfolded the quilt for his single bed, he said with tears in his eyes, “This is my first night sleeping under something where I know I am loved.” In Akko, a survivor couple commented, “This quilt will re-start a memory. In former generations we’d pass down a quilt. Now we can start over again.” The team says that one of the most frequent comments they hear from Holocaust survivors is, “We don’t want to be forgotten.” Maasay Yahdav does everything it can to make their requests come true. They have now delivered somewhere around 550-600 quilts. First Baptist Church Atlanta takes the prize for making and donating 300 quilts thus far. “Coverings of Love” go to children and adults including for bar and bat mitzvah gifts donated by a Jewish friend.
This “little giant” of an organization doesn’t stop with bomb shelters when it comes to big projects. Before their September 2018 trip, they raised $35,000 in donations to buy a Medi-Cycle Ambulance. In a moving ceremony, it was dedicated to Yosef Salomon, and his children, Haya and Elad who were murdered in Neve Tzuf (Halamish). A terrorist burst into their home and stabbed them to death while they were celebrating the birth of a grandchild. So far, Maasay Yahdav is the only Christian organization that has raised funds for a Medi-Cycle Ambulance.
Now that you know about Maasay Yahdav and its network of volunteers, imagine these scenes: church members who make and donate items, ladies living on Social Security delighted to crochet caps for Israeli neo-natal infants, 70-year old women dragging duffel bags into the airport, volunteers who can’t afford to go to Israel so they use their hands to make beautiful things, planning Israel trips and scheduling multiple places to implement the “Work of His Hands,” and reaching out with welcomed prayers. When the teams return to the United States, they don’t waste much time. They get over jet-lag as quickly as possible and begin again with the next round of love through “the Work of His Hands.”
Tikkun Olam, “repairing the world,” is a well known Jewish phrase and value. The Christians in Maasay Yahdav count it as a privilege to live out their version every day.