A Moment of Truth
“I am a simple man, just an unassuming taxi driver. But I believe that everyone has a designated role in this world. One day, I was driving in the center of town and my taxi was hailed by a woman who appeared hysterical. I was worried that something had happened and tried to work out if there was anything I could do. She said ‘No one can do anything to help me… only G-d can help me’. She requested for me to drive her to the hospital. She had just found out that her daughter had decided to go to terminate her pregnancy and at that moment was at the clinic.
The woman described to me that as much as she had tried to talk to her daughter, to explain to her that what she was considering would be a mistake, her daughter wouldn’t listen. She had decided to go ahead with the termination.
When we arrived in the parking lot, I turned to the woman and told her that there was no need for her to pay me. ‘I’m going to come up with you.’ I said. She was shocked! ‘You! Why would you come up with me! No one has managed to get through to her, how will you be able to make any difference? She doesn’t even know you!’ But I dug my heels in and insisted on going up.
I have to admit that before I went inside I lifted my eyes up to G-d and said the following. ‘Creator of the world, 26 years ago my mother was struggling with raising 4 children and she could not face having me. But someone introduced her to an organization named EFRAT and as a result, I am here today. Please give me the strength to unlock this woman’s heart.’ With a sense of responsibility, I went into the room and spoke to the woman’s daughter. I told her my personal story and she began to soften.
Today, Thank G-d I myself am married with a baby daughter and my mother is charmed by her. When she looks at my daughter, I know that she is thinking that if she had made a different decision about having me, not only would I not be here, but her granddaughter would not be here either.
Of course, there are times when it can feel exceptionally hard to make ends meet, but there is help available. Organizations such as EFRAT give real support to new mothers and it gives them tremendous peace of mind. Every child born is a treasure, an entire world. What a tragedy to carry out something which is impossible to take back, something that can be regretted forever.”
An Internal Investment
“When I was the medical director of a Jerusalem nursing home, I often wondered about the behavior of one of the female residents,” told Dr. Schussheim. “Each time that her son and grandchildren would visit, she would cry bitterly. Almost daily I would ask her ‘Why do you cry? Your son is incredibly dedicated to you. He comes to visit you with his children. I’d imagine this would make you happy, but instead it seems to make you cry….”
“Finally one she confided in me, explaining the reason for her tears. Before World War 2 she was happily married to a successful lawyer in Poland. They had 3 sons and it often occurred to her that she was happy with 3 children and did not need more. One day, the young woman shared her thoughts with a local doctor who asked her ‘Do you not at least want to have a daughter?’. She had never considered this possibility.
Indeed she did give birth to another child but it was another boy, not a girl as she had hoped. Deep in her heart, the fourth-time mother was disappointed. Tragically her husband was killed, along with two of their sons. A third son fell defending Latrun in the years following the war. Only her fourth son lived, the one that she had considered an ‘extra’.
It was this son who visited so regularly and it was only as a result of him that this elderly lady merited seeing the growth of the next generation. How could she not cry each time she saw him and his children.”
Dr. Schussheim concluded, “I know this son personally and I doubt that he is aware of his mother’s experiences. Her story moves me each time I think of it. There is no such thing as an ‘extra child’. It is cases like this that give me strength to devote myself to EFRAT’s work of saving lives.”
Around the World
EFRAT’s president, Dr. Schussheim makes numerous trips each year to communities around the world to raise awareness about EFRAT’s work. On one fundraising trip to Mexico, he spoke to many people about EFRAT’s life-saving work in Israel.
One donor in particular stood out. This man was not Jewish but like many people of other faiths, he had a curiosity and interest in learning more about the Jewish people. In his 40’s and married for over 15 years without children, he began to make regular donations to EFRAT. After a short time, his wife became pregnant and they had 2 children. The couple was overjoyed; they felt certain that the charity that he had given to save lives of babies, was the reason that they were finally blessed with children.
From Mexico to Germany…. EFRAT had a fascinating visit from a young German family – a couple in their early forties with three young boys. Ruthy, the chief social worker at EFRAT and the English speaking representative of EFRAT’s team, showed them around the office and talked to them about EFRAT’s work. They were taken on a tour of EFRAT’s warehouse where around 3000 thousand packages are packed and distributed monthly. Walking together, Ruthy asked the husband how they had heard of EFRAT and what had interested them in EFRAT’s work. He responded by telling her that about ten years ago, he had read an article about issues regarding childbirth in Israel. He read about EFRAT’s work and it had deeply resonated with him. “Besides, I believe that as Germans, saving the lives of Jewish babies is very important….”
Ruthy could hear the depth of this man’s sincerity and wish to put things right. She was reminded again how far word of EFRAT’s life-saving work has spread.
Babies in a Bag
At a medical convention, one of the presenters, stood up to tell a personal account that had taken place 25 years earlier. “An employee came into my office and asked me if she could take a few days off as she was terminating her pregnancy. I did not know how to react or how to convey to her the significance of what she was about to do. At that moment a slogan from the EFRAT organization came into my mind ‘Everyone can save a baby’s life’. You can help no matter who you are, even without a medical background.”
“I recalled that a while back I had received a pamphlet from EFRAT named ‘A baby’s diary’. I had been impressed by what I had read and, on a whim, had put it into a drawer in my desk. I gave this woman the pamphlet and asked her to keep me posted.”
“Some time passed but I didn’t hear from her. Eventually an opportunity came around to ask her how things were. To my surprise she informed me that she had decided to have her baby. This is what she told me. ‘Every time I opened my bag, the baby on the front of the pamphlet was looking at me. His face seemed to follow me and I found that I could not go ahead.’ This is what she told me.”
The speaker concluded “Today this woman has two sons and the son she was pregnant with is about to begin his medical studies.”
Dr. Eli Schussheim, president of EFRAT, was extremely moved by this story. “This shows how anyone and everyone can save a life. Look at the impact of this small pamphlet. Who could have known?”
Impact from a Far
Sometimes a picture makes it all worthwhile. A picture of a striking young man arrived at EFRAT’s headquarters. On the back was written, “Today I turned 16 and I thank you for the support that you gave to my mother, helping her to make the choice to keep me.”
Years before, this boy’s mother had appealed to EFRAT for help in an emotional letter. She had described how she was raising her 3 children in a tiny two room apartment. She was expecting another child and had absolutely no financial means to raise him. Against the will of her husband and family she had referred herself to the abortion committee for authorization.
“On the day that I was scheduled to have a termination, I forgot that I needed to come to my appointment fasting. So I had to push the procedure off to another time and I went home very disappointed.”
“I went home and was watching T.V. when a clip appeared of Dr. Eli Schussheim speaking about the activities of his organization, EFRAT and the support that they can provide. One sentence had a striking impact on me. He said, ‘life should not be ended because someone has no money.’ It was these words that made me turn to you.”
This young man is 16 years old today, thanks to EFRAT’s support. His mother has since referred other women in the same situation to EFRAT for help. EFRAT’s social worker Ruth Tidhar says that letters like this one are not rare. “Whenever a photo arrives with a story attached, it moves us, giving us renewed belief in our work.”
The Tide that Turned
An amazing couple brought their 10 year old daughter Nurit, to the EFRAT offices. They came with the intention of making a donation to help save a baby.
Aliza and Yonatan are no ordinary donors. They are a remarkable couple with a remarkable story. Ten and a half years before, their financial situation was dire and Aliza and her husband were a far cry from being able to make the $1200 donation needed to support one woman to have her baby. $1200 allows EFRAT to provide practical assistance, to give women the courage and peace of mind to continue their pregnancy.
When Aliza was expecting her third child, her friend called EFRAT on her behalf and pleaded with us to offer Aliza immediate advice and assistance to help her to have her baby. She had just been laid off from her job and at the same time her husband was struggling with a very low income. The couple was in distress and genuinely did not know how they would be able to manage with another child. Aliza was put into contact with a volunteer who listened to her and offered some simple economic advice. Aliza took everything on board and when she got her severance pay, she used the money as collateral to open a small business in downtown Jerusalem instead of it being swallowed up in her overdraft. EFRAT helped the couple provide for the baby’s needs.
Since then Aliza’s store has become a small chain selling women’s clothing. Aliza and Yonatan are sure that their change in circumstances came about because of their decision to have their baby.
Now this couple makes regular donations to save the lives of other women’s children, just as their beautiful daughter Nurit was saved with EFRAT’s help.
Seeing Nurit smile and giggle in EFRAT’s offices was a true testimony to the life-saving work that goes on within these four walls.