K Yad LaKashish, Doing Good and Doing Right

Yad LaKashish,
Doing Good and Doing Right

© David Burton 2024

The Yad Lakashish Gift Shop

     Yad LaKashish (Lifeline for the Old) is located in Israel at 14 Shivtei Street in Jerusalem, not far from the Mamilla Mall and the Jaffa Gata (sometimes called the New Gate) of the Old City. It provides employment opportunities and social services to the needy elderly and disabled of Jerusalem. They work daily in 10 different handicraft workshops, earn a small stipend and receive a free monthly bus pass, hot lunch daily for 25 cents, free medical checkups, the services of an on-staff social worker, holiday gifts and celebrations, and trips to places of interest around Israel. Lifeline welcomes visitors to tour the workshops and to purchase their unique handcrafted creations in their gift shop.

     Yad LaKashish was founded in 1962 when the State of Israel was only 14 years old. At that time, Jerusalem was divided and besieged with social and economic challenges. There was no time to think about how to help the elderly, let alone how they could contribute to the young state. Myriam Mendilow, a school teacher, was distraught by the elderly’s loss of self-respect as well as by her students’ disrespectful attitude toward them. She decided to take action.

     Inspired by one of the pillars of tzedakah (charity), helping others help themselves, she opened a small bookbinding workshop where eight local elderly men were trained in the craft. Local schools brought tattered books from their libraries to the workshop, and for a small fee, the elderly rebound the books. The children started to bond with the elderly, and soon these poor senior citizens discovered that even in their old age, they had something to contribute to society. More than 60 years later, Yad LaKashish has expanded to 10 workshops and nearly 300 elderly.

     I became familiar with about 10-years ago when I visited their workshop and gift shop in Jerusalem during one of my annual trips to Israel. During that and subsequent trips to Israel, I visited the workshop and purchased various items.

     Most recently, I have been unable to travel, but I still make use of the handmade gifts produced by the elderly at Yad Lakashish in Jerusalem. These days, I make my purchases via the internet at lifeline.org.il and have the items so purchased sent to me from Israel.

     At Yad Lakashish they even create their own paper from recycled paper. One can tour the workshops and meet with some of the people working there. The work they produce varies from bookbinding to exquisite work with fabrics, to handmade sheet metal items, to beautiful pottery, to hand made cards, to toys, to Judaica, and to much, much more. The skills exhibited are quite surprising and the prices are more than reasonable. This is a great place to find real bargains and, at the same time, contribute to the support of some needy senior Israeli citizens. It’s within walking distance of the Old City. During our visits to Israel, my wife and I would fill up a shopping bag with gifts for friends and family back home.

     Recently, I had and interesting - and what turned out to be a pleasant experience - with Yad Lakashish. Toward the end of 2023, I ordered some of their unique handmade greeting cards that they produce on recycled paper stock. When the package from Israel arrived, It was torn open with the greeting cards missing. The empty inner package was in a plastic envelope from the U.S. postal service with a note informing me that the torn open package from Israel had been received by yje postal service in that condition.

     The torn inner package clearly identified it as having been sent from Israel. I could not tell if someone had torn open the package and removed the greeting cards inside as an antisemitic act in opposition to the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza, if someone had ripped open the package in hope of finding something of value, or if the package had been ripped open by accident and the contents had simply fallen out and been lost.

     I notified Yad Lakashish of what had happened and requested that they not replace the lost greeting cards since I didn’t want them to absorb the expense of replacement cards and new shipping charges.

     Imagine my surprise when shortly thereafter I received a package from Israel, with a set of replacement greeting cards – an appreciated example of DOING GOOD AND DOING RIGHT!

  06 February 2024 {Article 610; Suggestions?_87}    
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