Rosh Hashana is a time of giving
Rosh Hashana is a time of giving. A time to offer a helping hand to those going through extremely difficult times.
Jewish Care impacts on thousands of lives, from babies and children to the elderly, each and every day. Sadly, we are witnessing increasing numbers of people in our community who have no choice but to turn to Jewish Care for help. Like Ariella*, each person has their own story to tell.
This is Ariella's story.
"My name is Ariella and I grew up in a warm and loving, traditional Jewish home. My younger sister Zoe* and I had a regular childhood. We did swimming, gymnastics and tennis. I did well academically and have always been a high achiever. I have such happy memories of my childhood. That is, until year 10.
I was only 15 years old when things started to fall apart for me...
Though caught up in my own little world as most kids are, I began to notice things slowly disappearing from our home. It started with small items like paintings and eventually moved onto bigger things like our television. At the start no one would give me answers as to why this was happening but I noticed mum becoming teary every time bills arrived or when we needed to buy new clothes. It was confusing and a bit scary for me, especially because no one was telling my sister and me what was going on.
Over time, I eventually learned that my family was in serious debt because of my dad’s gambling addiction. I could feel the tension between my mum and dad growing every day, often unspoken but still clearly there. This began to have a huge impact on me, and ultimately, on my studies.
One day, following yet another argument about money, my dad hit my mum with full force across the face in front of my sister and me. And the abuse did not stop there. It seemed the stress of landing himself in huge gambling debts led my dad to behave in a way that was erratic and totally out of character. That experience is truly etched in my mind. No child should have to witness a parent reaching "rock bottom" as my sister and I did.
My dad. My hero. The one that I idolised. The one person that is supposed to look after us and protect us was the cause of everything that once made us a happy family unravelling.
Eventually my dad decided to leave home and seek help but with the severity of his debt, we lost our home just a few weeks later.
My mum, sister and I had nowhere to live!
As much as I tried to stop, I just couldn't help crying all the time.
One day I overheard mum speaking on the phone to someone at Jewish Care. I remembered having visited my great-grandmother quite often at Jewish Care's Montefiore Homes. I also remember placing coins each Shabbat into our Jewish Care tzedakah box. Who knew that those same coins would play a role in helping my family in such a significant way?
I don’t know what we would have done if it wasn't for Jewish Care?
First, we saw a Jewish Care social worker who assessed our needs. Above anything else, we needed a place to stay. As Zoe and I were teenagers, we were placed on a priority list for housing and shortly after contacting Jewish Care, we moved into a unit in East St Kilda. I must admit, it was really small compared to what we were used to, but for the first time in a long time, I felt safe and secure again.
Once we had settled into our new home, a Jewish Care financial counsellor helped my mum figure out how we could manage our finances and deal with the remainder of debt dad had left behind. Jewish Care’s Employment Centre also helped my mum find a better paying job.
Then, as recently as last year, added to everything else that Jewish Care had done for us, I was fortunate enough to be accepted onto Jewish Care's Youth Aspire Mentoring program. I was matched with an adult mentor who provided me with incredible support and guidance so that I was able to get through VCE and achieved an ATAR score needed to study psychology. After all that I had gone through, I could not believe that something so extraordinary had happened to me.
One day I hope to give back to this amazing organisation so that other kids like me can be given the hope of a brighter future."
The need for housing, financial aid, financial counselling, employment, disability support or any other service that Jewish Care provides is ongoing.
Your donation will help support individuals one life at a time. And as we are taught by our tradition, each life is a world, each world reliant upon your support, which is why we are asking you to please give generously at this special time of year.
We wish you a Shana Tova. May we all be blessed with a happy and sweet year!