Jewish-Christian fellowship group increases aid to Arab Israelis during Ramadan

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is increasing food and clothing assistance to Arab Israelis during the Muslim holiday season of Ramadan.

The fellowship currently is distributing 9,500 food and clothing vouchers during Ramadan, which began on May 26, through Israeli social services offices in 78 Arab and Arab-Jewish communities. More than 9,000 low-income families will receive the assistance. The fellowship also will distribute 5,500 food vouchers and 4,000 clothing vouchers to children in after-school clubs run by Israel’s Ministry of Social Services and Social Affairs.

The Ramadan aid is part of an overall $5.6 million that the fellowship is providing to needy Israeli Arabs in 2017, the group said. The fellowship’s founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, has called on the government of Israel to bolster Israeli Arabs’ connection to the country in the wake of a proposed law to officially declare Israel a Jewish state, which has stirred anxiety among Israeli Arabs and other minorities.

“It is important that the citizens of Israel understand that the legislation of the law declaring Israel as the nation of the Jewish people may be important, but the feeling of equality and quality of life among the Arab citizens of Israel, one-fifth of Israel’s citizens, is the real guarantee of the whole Israeli society and the future of a moral and sustainable nation,” Eckstein said in a statement.

The fellowship also recently invested in projects to improve medical services in Bedouin communities, and has provided educational scholarships for many hundreds of Christian and Muslim Arab and Druze Israelis.

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