Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Too Cold for Comfort

Aharon Granot

The same country vaunted as the start-up capital of the world houses a frightening number of desperately poor citizens — some of whom literally sleep outdoors on damp mattresses atop sopping wet cardboard as they try to keep warm under layers of rags. Yet even a punishingly cold winter hasn’t coaxed Israel’s homeless to vacate their waterlogged street corners for the heated hostels extended by a government that can’t seem to bridge the yawning gap between its savvy haves and hopeless have-nots.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

With yet another forecast predicting sleet, howling winds, and a week of nocturnal frost, these are the coldest Israeli winter nights I can remember. As I step from the warm car into the freezing night, I can’t fathom how Uri is surviving a punishing winter season with no home to call his own. I find Uri at the entrance to the Carmel shuk inTelAviv, his gaunt frame wrapped in piles of rags, with two thin mattresses separating him from the icy cold sidewalk. The odor that he emanates, the result of weeks without a hot shower, is somewhat dulled by the cold wind blowing in the opposite direction. Together with Magen David Adom volunteers making the rounds to Israel’s homeless distributing sleeping bags on this frigid night, I discover that Uri had done his best to prepare for the harsh weather: the supermarket cart that is his closet, his house, the place where he stores the remnants of his life, is loaded with additional piles of rags and even a few old coats donated by some kind souls. Just that morning he’d received another shabby mattress as an additional shield from the flooded sidewalks drenching him. But he thinks upward too: “When I hear that stormy weather is on the way,” he says, “I try to arrange for a roof over my head.” For Uri that doesn’t mean a shelter in the conventional sense, but rather a spot on the sidewalk where there’s an awning or overhang that will protect him from the rain. One of the volunteers offers him a warm sleeping bag, and Uri takes it with a trembling hand. Within a second, the sleeping bag disappears into the shopping cart closet. When his current configuration of rags gets hopelessly soaked, he’ll inaugurate the sleeping bag. 

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"