The impossible choice between electricity or food

One morning this week, my friend, I’ll call her Leah, phoned to ask me if I had a power shortage. I was happy to answer her, “No, everything is fine.” She sounded a bit hesitant and then hung up the phone. Right away I knew what was wrong. Every two months, on the third of the month, the electric company goes around turning off people’s electricity if they haven’t paid their bill in too long. I sent Leah a text message: “You haven’t paid your bill? How much is it?” She wrote back the amount and asked me if I knew someone who could help.

Leah and her husband have five cute children who, in a few hours, would be arriving to a lightless home. I started making phone calls to see if someone could help pay her bill. I know that their financial situation is very tough and that if I didn’t help her they would be spending the night in the dark. Leah’s husband was in such a state of despair that he wasn’t even answering her phone calls; he just couldn’t face her knowing that he had no solutions to this painful predicament.

Within a couple of hours, with the help of a few very generous people we managed to pay her bill. This was at two in the afternoon. At five it was already dark out and at six she wrote to tell me that the lights had just gone back on. She wrote: “If it had gone on for any longer I would have lost my mind.”

All I kept thinking was, “Thank G-d she didn’t have to spend the night in the dark.”

But one can only assume that unlike Leah’s family, there were people who spent that night in the dark. This is part of the Israeli reality. Many families here are constantly making decisions between basic necessities like paying a utilities bill, new shoes for winter or groceries.

I’m starting an initiative to help families in the Sheer Chadash community as well as the greater community in South Tel Aviv so that less people need to make such painful decisions. Click here to learn how you can help.

About the Author
Tsipora grew up in a very zionistic religous home. At the age of 20, after a bit of soul searching, she became Breslov and has not stopped dancing since. She lives in Southern Tel Aviv as part of a Breslov community, Sheer Chadash. She is an events photographer, video editor, videographer, movie producer and loves to cook.