Some 2,000 needy families in the Israeli communities of Kiryat Malachi and Hof Ashkelon had a sweeter New Year thanks to the generosity of Orange County's Jewish community.
Each of these families received a gift of honey sent by O.C. residents in a project organized by 11 local Jewish organizations to tangibly display their support for Israel. A poignant message was added to each jar: "We are with you in sweetness and sorrow."
"Israelis feel alone and isolated today," explained Ira Kerem, a community representative in Israel for United Jewish Communities, which has established sister city ties in Israel for its federation of U.S. communities. "This is a small way to show that they are not alone and that people in at least one location care enough to send them bottles of honey."
Some of the recipient families were startled to receive the sweet nectar in a mass distribution effort by social workers and local teen volunteers. Many asked, "Why would people outside Israel care about us?" The accompanying cards were written in Hebrew, Russian and Ethiopian's Amharic, the language mix in the area of recently arrived immigrants.
Since the honey is produced at a local apiary, Hof Ashkelon's Yad Mordechai, it is hoped the project benefited the region economically, too. Some of the funds raised by the honey purchases will go toward other projects in the economically depressed region, said Federation President Lou Weiss, a member of the task force that organized the honey airlift.