“Hadas, I’m very worried about my son’s classmate Jacob. I’m afraid he’s starving,” said a worried mother in a call to Boys Town Jerusalem social worker Hadas Knopf. “Each time he comes to visit, he seems simply famished.”

A home visit proved the mother’s fears to be well-founded: the refrigerator was totally empty. “Jacob, who lost his father several years ago, is an only child,” Hadas reports. “His mother has a chronic disease that now requires frequent hospitalization. For now, she’s missed work and they have no money.”

Hadas adds that the situation is exacerbated by the mother and son being new immigrants to Israel, with no family here at all.

Hadas and BTJ housemother Rachel Cohen-Pur immediately brought food and money to Jacob and his mother, while carefully preserving the family’s pride. “The poor boy is embarrassed and doesn’t want his friends to know about his situation. His mother is extremely sensitive and determined to do anything to keep their home functioning.”

Hadas expresses frustration with today’s Covid-caused difficulty in identifying students in crisis like Jacob. “With the school and dormitory closed, we simply cannot keep a finger on the pulse of every boy. In this case, we’re extremely grateful to the mother who alerted me to Jacob’s distress.” Painfully, the ramifications of the closure are quite extensive.

“During normal times, Jacob and other boys in need are fed three wholesome, nutritious meals daily on campus, and will never be hungry. Even if they lack a bedroom at home, their school dorm rooms are spacious and comfortable. Yet in today’s abnormal times, we must be vigilant to discover the many boys suffering the torment of poverty, plus the emotional strife and even violence that is rampant at home.”

As for Jacob’s situation, Hadas is gratefully optimistic. “We are here to help. Jacob and his mother are no longer alone.”

*not his real name

To help Boys Town Jerusalem provide for boys like Jacob, click here.

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