Today, on my way to volunteer, I saw, once again, a man in army uniform with an Uzi, decorated with two stripes on his shoulders and a “security” band on his arm, stationed outside a complex of nursery schools. I asked him, ‘Why is an officer responsible for security?’ His response was, ‘We do whatever is needed.’ I told him that it takes great spirit to be willing to do that.
Indeed, most people I know are doing whatever is needed. Some of my friends have given a new meaning to the Mitzva of kissing the earth of the Holy Land by working in the fields and assisting farmers in the agricultural region of the Western Negev with the harvest. After the October 7th massacre, most foreign workers, especially those from Thailand, left Israel. Tragically 31 Thai workers were murdered by Hamas in the fields, and 20 were kidnapped to Gaza. There’s an ongoing call for volunteers to help pick fruits and vegetables. My cousin, for example who is over 60, has so far planted lettuce, picked tomatoes, packed pomegranates, and even sat inside a tractor. He seems to have found his calling.
A friend of mine shared her incredible volunteering experience: converting car USB chargers to ones that fit military vehicles. An Israeli engineer, learning that soldiers who were out in the fields were unable to charge their phones and to communicate with the family back home, invented a relatively inexpensive and simple system. So far, this project has distributed thousands of units to soldiers and significantly improved their lives. The volunteers work in the spacious basement of a Tel Aviv synagogue, and la st Saturday, many people who came to Shul went to the basement to congratulate the volunteers on their important work. My friend said that she was impressed with the invention and the way this project took off. She liked the calm and serious atmosphere on the job, where everyone, including children, worked hard and stayed focused on the task at hand.
After the first 30 days of mourning, many of us still find it impossible to return to our lives. But since the end is not in sight, it will be better if the places where we spend many hours contributing to the war effort are a good fit. I doubt that the officer from this morning enjoys his task, but I imagine that the volunteers who choose to work in the fields enjoy the outdoors, my friend enjoys the no-nonsense approach of her place of work, and I love the noise and the busyness in the restaurant where I volunteer daily.
Hopefully this era of intensive volunteering will naturally come to an end once the hostages are back safely. In the meantime, many of us try to find our way in this limbo by doing whatever is needed, just like the officer said.