Leah looked down at the floor. At 8 years-old she had already known the shame and embarrassment of being poor. The many times she had stood waiting for food handouts had left scars on her heart.
Leah’s mother, Rachel H. explained, “Before my daughter was accepted to Yad Ezra V’Shulamit’s Children’s Center, she felt humiliated receiving assistance. People mean well, but often give food in a way that is embarrassing. The Center has given Leah friends and a warm, healthy meal but, most importantly, no embarrassment or shame in taking.
Aryeh Lurie, founder of Yad Ezra V’Shulamit knew hunger as a child. His sensitivity to extreme poverty helped create the mission of Yad Ezra V’Shulamit. Lurie explains, “Once, in a food line for free potatoes, someone gave me a broken toy. They were so happy, but I felt awful. Now, I am grateful for the lesson. I learned how not to give to poor people – especially children.” Laurie continues, “Children’s sensitivity to their plight can damage their self-esteem and self-respect, at Yad Ezra V’Shulamit, we do everything possible to ensure that our children don’t feel they are less than anyone else.”
500 children not only receive a hot lunch every day but once a year Lurie sets up a ‘store’ with new coats and school supplies for the children to choose, as though in a shop. “Why?” asks Lurie, “Because it is not enough to give. You have to care enough to give in a way that protects a person’s pride.”