Rabbi Abraham Israel
Abraham Israel, Hazon Yeshaya founder and director, was born in Egypt. As a child, after the Suez War of 1956, when the situation for Jews in Egypt worsened, he and his family had to flee the country to escape persecution. Forced to leave all their assets in Egypt, they set off to France where they stayed for three years. During that period, Abraham and his family had to eat in a soup kitchen in Paris. They finally fulfilled their dream and reached the "land of opportunity" upon their arrival in the United States.
After receiving an education and continuing his post-high school studies at Baruch College, Abraham obtained a degree in business, entered the business world and became a successful shoe importer. After bringing his wife and seven children to Israel, one day, Abraham chanced upon a destitute woman in Israel, with empty shelves in her kitchen and no idea where her next meal would come from. He was astounded by her situation, and even more so when he learned that there are hundreds of thousands like her in Israel.
This was the turning point in his life in which he decided it was time to return the same kindness he and his family received way back in France. He opened a small kitchen with his own funds to feed 17 starving Jerusalem residents. To his amazement, this small kitchen grew to what is today the largest soup kitchen network in Israel. The national chain consisting of 60 distribution points nationwide currently provides over 400,000 hot meals each month , of which 70% are for school-age children who, in essence, are the future of our beloved State of Israel. Since Abraham himself knows what it is like to be poor and hungry, he works up to 18 hours per day to ensure that the needs of the poverty-stricken are being met. It is not uncommon for him to shed tears when he hears the personal story of someone new needing the soup kitchens' services and he is saddened every time he has to increase the number of meals he serves.
In 2008, Abraham received the prestigious Mayor of Jerusalem Volunteer Award for his exceptional contribution to advancing the welfare and quality of life of Israel's neediest persons. While Hazon Yeshaya now helps thousands of people every day, Abraham's dream is to extend his programs into every city that needs a soup kitchen, ensuring that no one will be left hungry for even a single day.