At Peace and In Full Bloom | The Jewish Agency – U.S.At Peace and In Full Bloom

At Peace and In Full Bloom

At Peace and In Full Bloom
After overcoming lifelong tragedy, Phima became a happy and thriving resident of Amigour Sheltered Housing.

After a life of hardship, Phima, 80, had hoped to spend his old age in relative serenity. He found that sense of peace, as well as a close-knit community, at the Amigour “Pincus” Sheltered Home in Bat Yam, Israel. Amigour, a subsidiary of The Jewish Agency, is Israel’s leading sheltered housing group, providing quality housing to new immigrants, single-parent families and the elderly.
Phima in his garden

As evident to anyone who meets him, Phima is incredibly nurturing and reflective, his strength of character built through a lifetime of overcoming incredible obstacles. He was just three years old when World War II reached his town in Slonim, Belarus. His parents, fearing for their safety, uprooted Phima and his two sisters to Uzbekistan where they thought they would have a better life. Phima’s father found work as a farmer. Slowly they settled into their new life, until one day, unexpectedly, his father went to the fields to work and never returned home.

It was not until 11 years later that Phima’s family was officially notified that his father, along with six others, had been captured and murdered by Nazi soldiers. The devastating loss of his father to the war inspired Phima to join the military in Uzbekistan at the age of 19. Showing great promise, he entered the Army Academy to become a commander. Following his military career, he went to university, ultimately graduating to become a history and economics teacher.

Phima married and was blessed with a son and daughter. Despite his constant hard work, however, he found himself struggling to earn enough money to support his family. His children grew up, ultimately moving to Israel in search of a better life.

In 1996, Phima was once again uprooted, moving with his wife to Israel to join his children, hoping to finally find a sense of stability. Shortly after arriving, however, Phima had to face another grave tragedy, losing his daughter to a deadly disease.

But in Israel, Phima still found hope and a newfound sense of identity. “Our ties here in Israel are deep and strong,” he says. His family grew in strength and in numbers, with his granddaughter, whom he raised after her mother’s death, growing up to have three children of her own. And he was proud that his son followed in his footsteps, serving as a sergeant in the Israeli army.

Amigour is one big family and no one ever feels lonely...Amigour has given me everything I need.

Amigour gives the most vulnerable segments of our community a place to call home. With 57 sheltered living complexes throughout Israel, we primarily serve the elderly—many of whom are Holocaust survivors—as well as new immigrants and single-parent families.

Although Phima and his wife had found a new chance in Israel, as they grew older, they found it harder and harder to support themselves in their day-to-day living. They were happy to discover that as Israeli citizens they were eligible for Amigour’s subsidized housing program, which strives to offer residents more than just a building, but a welcoming community they can truly call home.

Phima and his wife found a space to make their own at the Pincus Sheltered Home. After settling in, Phima noticed that there was a big empty courtyard that needed attention. Little by little, he made it his own personal project, working to fill it with a multitude of plants and flowers, giving color and life to the formerly barren space.

“I wanted to turn it into a little piece of heaven - which I did,” he says. “I see the smiles on the residents’ faces when they look at the garden, and that fills me with joy.”

“Amigour has given me everything I need – all the necessary gardening tools – to create this wonderful jungle. But it does so much more than just keep me busy,” says Phima. “I talk to these flowers and sing to them. My flowers at Amigour are my protection from all the sorrows of the world. Rather than taking life, they nurture it.”

Thanks to Amigour, Phima has planted roots and found a new life of serenity at his home in Bat Yam. “Amigour is one big family and no one ever feels lonely,” he says. “Whenever I’m asked where I live, I proudly say Amigour.” Just like his garden, Phima is truly thriving.