I went to our south Florida schul last night to hear a man named Assaf Weiss, the founder of an Israeli national educational agency.
He spoke about the morning of the Shabbat attack. He had gone for a run, hadn’t brought a cell phone as he is shomer shabbat. He noticed people talking. “There’s a war in Gaza,” someone said.
He ran on and saw a policeman. “Go home,” the officer told him.
Weiss is a volunteer reservist, above the age of mandatory reserve duty. but in the days to come he traveled from outpost to outpost offering his services. He soon understood that this war was unlike previous wars. This war wasn’t just a conflict to be resolved by strategy and equipment. This was a war that directly challenged the self-confidence, sense of safety and even mental equilibrium of the nation and, among the ones most at risk were the lower socio-economic classes, historical beneficiaries of his organization.
His and his staff soon identified the towns and people most at need. They arranged for mentors to meet with Israeli families and counsel them, deliver food, send house cleaners, even bring flowers.
He brought a small pile of charred asphalt and melted metal that had once been part of a dwelling in Kibbutz Beeri.
I thought of the roaring fire that had consumed the house and probably its inhabitants.
I could not bring myself to inhale the smoke remnants.
Once imprinted in my brain, they would never have left, just as the sights seen by the Israelis will never leave their memories.
As I began to walk out I stopped to chat with a woman as her rambunctious 4 year old ran around in circles. I asked her if she was considering having another child.
“I’m 42!” she replied.
“Don’t worry,” I said, with solemnity, confidence and tears. “Hashem will provide.”
The organization is Ma’agalim. Its website is https://www.en.maagalim.org