Feature Stories

Community's Caring Warms Winter Chill for FSU Elderly

Perel relies on Hesed year-round for food and other support.
Perel relies on Hesed year-round for food and other support.

Perel Geller dreads the Ukrainian winter, when plunging temperatures and long months of snowfall compound her daily hardship. At the age of 80, she has gotten used to living alone in a tiny shack without utilities; but it is getting harder to endure the below-freezing gusts on her already demoralizing walks to a shared outhouse. Her only bit of relief is the winter assistance she receives from JDC’s Hesed network.

Distributed once a year in advance of the season, JDC’s winter relief packages-warm blankets, clothing, and heating fuel-made the harsh winter months bearable for more than 27,000 impoverished Jews across the former Soviet Union last year; people like Perel whose well-being depends on services from JDC’s Hesed social welfare centers. A beneficiary of Hesed Shlomo in Zhitomir since 1997, today Perel also receives a food card with which to purchase groceries, medicines and medical consultations, as well as personal hygiene and laundry service, and she participates in local JDC-supported Day Center activities with other Jewish elderly. These vital acts of loving kindess (hesed) let Perel know she is not alone, especially after so many years of suffering.

Born in July 1930, Perel endured repeated evacuations and much privation during World War II. Her father, a laborer, joined the Soviet Army when the war began, while Perel, her mother, and her two siblings fled first to Stalingrad, then to the Volga region, and finally to Kyrgizia. There, 11-year-old Perel had to work with her mother on a collective farm to help support her family. Forced to share a tiny apartment lacking heat and utilities with other families, the Gellers were constantly sick. But despite physical and emotional hardship as well as the family’s repeated displacement during the war, Perel managed to save her mother’s Hebrew prayerbooks-relics she treasures to this day.

When the Gellers returned to Zhitomir following its liberation in 1944 (where they were soon joined by Perel’s father) their home had been given to others and their family was reduced to living in and were a windowless, one-room apartment. The small stove they installed for cooking and a bit of heat caused them endless, terrible headaches.

Overcoming tremendous obstacles, Perel completed medical school and worked for years as an obstetrician. But her siblings soon moved from Zhitomir, leaving her to care for their increasingly infirm parents. Since their death, Perel has been suffering from a variety of medical conditions all alone-save for Hesed.

“Thanks to them I can live in dignity, feeling I am part of a caring community that has not forgotten me.”

Tags for this story: Elderly

Subscribe to our RSS feed: Feature Stories – JDC Around the World
X

An error occurred during your login.

X

JDC, Cookies, and Your Privacy

Cookies are small pieces of information sent by our web server for storage on your computer, to be retrieved when you return to this site. We use cookies to allow you faster, more convenient access, and to prevent you from being required to log in on every page of our sites.

For more information on JDC’s use of cookies, read our Privacy Policy.

X

An Error Occurred

X

Logging In With One of Your Social Web Site Logins

Instead of trying to remember a bunch of special username/password combinations to log in to different web sites that you visit, you can now link your account on this web site to your account on one (or more) of the social media web sites shown and log in with the same username/password combination that you use on that social web site to log in to our site.

To provide this connection in a secure manner, we use Gigya, a social network connection provider that works behind the scenes to make safe, secure connections between user accounts on different systems, such as popular social media web sites like Facebook and web sites like ours where you are actively involved in social issues and causes.

Each time you log in, Gigya uses special application programming interfaces (APIs) to establish the connection between the sites and validate your username and password. Neither our web site or Gigya receive or store your social network passwords.

In addition to reducing the number of logins you have to remember, connecting your accounts can make it quicker and easier to share an activity or cause you feel passionately about from our web site with your friends on your social web sites.

You can break the connection between your accounts at any time.