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Israel’s National Food Security Initiative honors Herzog, IFCJ   

“No human can be truly respected without caring for their basic needs, the most elementary of which is food,” said Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who launched the initiative in 2017.

Israel's National Food Security Initiative, launched by the government in 2017, honors Israeli President Isaac Herzog and IFCJ head Yael Echstein at its annual conference, March 2023. Credit: Mendy Kurant.
Israel's National Food Security Initiative, launched by the government in 2017, honors Israeli President Isaac Herzog and IFCJ head Yael Echstein at its annual conference, March 2023. Credit: Mendy Kurant.

Israel’s National Food Security Initiative held its annual conference this week, acknowledging the partners responsible for implementing and supporting the program, that provides nutritional support to tens of thousands of Israeli families each year.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who served as welfare minister in 2012, addressed the gathering alongside the current minister, Rabbi Yaakov Margi.

“I am deeply moved to be here, because I remember the launch of this idea, which accepted that the government of Israel would confront the issue of food security,” said Herzog. “No human can be truly respected without caring for their basic needs, the most elementary of which is food. The holistic approach offered by this important initiative is to both assist people, but also to be rehabilitated and to experience financial independence. That is an example of proper governance and a symbol of just welfare governance on the part of the Israeli government,” he added.

As of March 2023, 36,000 families in 240 municipalities across Israel were receiving food cards used for specific items and supplies, as well as monthly deliveries of fresh fruits, vegetables, nutritional staples and baby formula for new mothers. In addition, recipients are encouraged to attend a series of sponsored workshops focused on smart fiscal planning and home economics.

Herzog thanked the representatives of the local welfare departments that spearhead the program across the country, and the dedication of Rabbi Mendy Blau, Israel director of Colel Chabad, the implementing agency for the national program.

“Without your vision, creative thinking, practical solutions, the ability to overcome any denominational boundaries and certainly your resilience in the face of all sorts of pressures, this Initiative would not have reached the remarkable heights it has,” said Herzog.

The initiative, which secured funding from Israel’s national budget in 2022 and philanthropic support from Colel Chabad and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), provides a variety of programs aimed at combating poverty by strengthening the ability of individuals and families to overcome financial challenges.

“This initiative is the realization of a dream which could only be realized by those who shared our vision for the potential to truly help others and didn’t let anything stand in their way to make it possible,” said Rabbi Sholom Duchman, director of Colel Chabad.

“In particular, we want to thank the IFCJ led by Yael Eckstein and founded by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of blessed memory, who have worked tirelessly to raise hundreds of millions of shekels on behalf of Israel’s needy out a sense of sincere compassion and desire to better the lives of everyone who needs support,” added Duchman.

In recognition of their dedication and support for the National Food Security Initiative, Herzog and Eckstein, president of the IFCJ, were presented with an award of distinction by Mendy Blau and Rabbi Sholom Duchman.

“We see it as a source of immeasurable pride to partner with Colel Chabad in a program that is impacting the welfare of the people of Israel in such a positive way,” said Eckstein. “The power of this initiative is that it doesn’t simply help people with their basic needs but is designed to enable them to escape the cycle of poverty.  The IFCJ sees it as part of our central vision not simply to assist but to create better futures for the people that benefit from our support. We look forward to many more years of cooperation with our partners at Colel Chabad.”

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