Love Thy Neighbour

The often misunderstood Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community have come up with a very innovative idea based on one of the most prominent ideas in Judaism,  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” The idea was so necessary and so obvious that a donor kick-started the project with a million dollar pledge: and the charity Quality of Life was born. 

Quality of Life attends to the needs of families living on the breadline. They help not with donation of cash but with a team of eight full time handymen who go into homes to fix the likes of dripping taps, cupboard doors that have come off the hinges, broken pipes and windows that don’t shut properly. 

To live in a home that is falling apart eats away at a person’s dignity and self-respect. In religious families where there is neither the ability or the money how to mend things, this often affects a marriage and creates stress which has an avalanche effect on all. Many children have admitted feeling ashamed to bring their friends home because the chairs and tables wobble, or the lights don’t work, or the door handles are missing. So far, these Orthodox do-it-yourself men, have visited over 10,000 homes throughout Israel and fixed up things. 

As is the nature of the religious community, when things are improved, the Holy One of Israel gets the credit. One single mother reported that when her son came home from school and saw all the repairs, he was so surprised that he asked her if Elijah the prophet had come for a visit. Another lady who was living on her own, cried with happiness and knew that the Master of the Universe was looking out for her. How could He not be? It was the first time in years her house had proper lighting.

One of the Handymen, Moshe Klein, believes that he owes his very life to the fact that he is able to do acts of kindness through his work. One day when he was in the car with his wife and four children, they all narrowly escaped a major crash. Although they collided with the oncoming car, Klein managed to slow down and swerve which was enough to avoid serious injury. He attributes their escape to the fact that he uses that very car to drive from house to house, to help fix up homes. Klein knows he is fulfilling a commandment by brightening up the lives of his brethren. Thus, he feels he owes their very lives to the good deeds HaShem has given him the choice and opportunity to do. 

Once a year, the handymen all go out for a meal. Each one reports of great job satisfaction and spiritual growth. They are convinced that nowhere else in the world fix-it men have such joy in what they do. Their pay checks are standard for the type of work that they do, but their biggest reward is twofold: the excitement they are greeted with when they turn up at a home and the gratitude to HaShem their work invokes in those who are needy. For these handymen and the beneficiaries alike, the commandment of “Love your Neighbour” is a win-win.