For 19 years, Rahamim Yonah and his wife Matilda worked side-by-side selling and making jewelry. They were the proud owners of the "Hand of Gold" jewelry store in Kiryat Shmona. Until the second Lebanese war destroyed everything they had built.
In addition to the daunting challenge of rebuilding their damaged store, Rahamim and Matilda earned no income for over a month. And with the extensive damages, it will take at least another month for them to start repairing the damages. "I go from office to office, filling out papers and waiting for answers. It is frustrating and depressing."
In order to continue paying basic expenses, Rahamim and his wife have gone deeply into debt. "Time is against us," he says.
However, when asked if he would think of leaving Kiryat Shmona, Rahamim answers with a resounding "no". "We built our house in my parents' yard; we raised our children here. Our livelihood, although severely damaged, is here. I don't intend to let anyone chase us from our home."
Rahamim looks at the massive debris in his store and tears come to his eyes. "There is so much work to be done. Nothing is very clear at this point."
The Jewish Agency for Israel is providing immediate emergency funds for small, independent business people such as Rahamim, to give them hope and help them get back on their feet. The first-aid assistance will allow these hard-working individuals to pay some of their immediate bills, such as water, electricity and rent, and kick-start the rebuilding of their businesses.
"Life is stronger than any event," says Rahamim. "Slowly, very slowly, we'll get back to normal."
Photo Credit: Naftali Hilger
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