From Seder to Solidarity: Be’col Dor V’dor

Packages of Unity and Solidarity

“בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת עַצְמוֹ כְאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרַיִם”

The Seder table is rich with themes of liberation and reflection. Among them, I find inspiration in the teachings from solidarity missions during times of crisis. In Pesach, we say בכל דור ודור” in every generation, each person must see themselves as they personally left Egypt.

Seeing yourself is an invitation to think, feel, educate, understand and experience as much as you can what it is like to wear the shoes of the Hebrews in their journey to liberation. Seeing yourself as the “other”. The other, who was a slave, the other who went through difficulties, the person who experienced struggle and grief, but perhaps mostly, to see how they triumphed.

Since October 7th, there has been a rise in volunteer support missions from around the world to Israel. The missions are coming to see, share in the grief, show up in support, and truly experience firsthand the struggles of our brothers and sisters of Am Israel. Taking that action and coming down in person to the battleground of the modern ‘Egypt’ to see the ‘other’ for yourself shares a powerful message of support with even a wider ripple effect.

Showing up in person, the simple act of saying “Hineni,” “I am here next to you,” and “How can I help?” can make a world of difference. Having someone visit you, knowing that they had chosen to fly and come firsthand to see, hear, and feel what you are going through – is an incredible experience. It’s a reminder that we are not alone and that together, we can overcome anything. During my recent visit to Atid’s schools with the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, I felt a strong sense of “togetherness.” I saw how just having visitors coming and showing up for the students became a cornerstone of hope and strength.

Atid is one of Israel’s leading educational networks, serving over 25,000 students from all sectors of society in 65 schools throughout Israel. The mission visited in January 2023, and their first stop was Atid Ohr-Chaya in Ashkelon, a school that was hit by a rocket launched from Gaza. This moment brought the reality of the conflict to the forefront for the mission members. Witnessing the damage to the school and holding the rocket debris in their hands was an eye-opening experience. Atid Ohr-Chaya is dedicated to empowering girls from the religious community, emphasizing joy in learning, a STEM-oriented curriculum, and community engagement despite socio-economic challenges. It is a unique place.

During the visit, students shared their personal reactions to the war’s onset and how they are coping, alongside talking about the schools’ significance in their lives. One student, Michaela, shared a story of not having a shelter in her home and expressed how she feels safer at school. Another student, Menucha, explained how she chose this school from all the other options she had in her city, Ashdod. For her, Atid Ohr-Chaya is the best academic choice, even if she has to take three buses each way to commute. “It’s worth it” she says passionately. “Advancing academically is the best way for me to build my future.”

The Mission continued to the Atid Joanna Jabotinsky Youth Village in Be’er Yaakov. This educational and agricultural oasis in the city’s heart is a testament to the enduring spirit of Israeli youth. With its high matriculation and IDF recruitment rates, the youth village is home to over 250 students, including Na’ale students from war-torn regions in Russia and Ukraine. Participants volunteered alongside these students, creating care packages for families of army reservists. This symbolized the Mission’s spirit of giving and solidarity. Students spoke about their volunteering over the past three months, sending thousands of packages of equipment and supplies for soldiers, families and evacuees from the north and south.

Youth Village graduate and current counselor Victoria Smolin met the mission participants. In a feature story on Smolin in the Jerusalem Post, she says, “There is something very beautiful and unique about the Jewish people. They help and care about each other. When I needed help, people were there for me. The entire Village was my support. In turn, I am helping others as much as I can.” She relates how she saw this solidarity so clearly when the mission visited Joana Jabotinsky.

“There was so much genuine mutual care between the visitors and the students and a real sense of unity. This is what Am Israel, the nation of Israel, is all about.” Said Atid CEO Yossi Mamo also noted that nurturing Israel’s children, especially those from vulnerable communities, is key to building Israel’s immediate and long-term resilience. While defense is crucial for our nation’s safety, the heart of Israel – its people, especially the youth – need support as they navigate their futures. Atid is immensely grateful to the Hartford Federation for their ongoing commitment.

This solidarity mission to Israel, along with countless others, exemplifies “Be’col Dor v’dor.” Missions like these go beyond acts of care and support. They are a powerful message of global Jewish solidarity. When we see through the eyes of the ‘other’ and walk with them in their ‘Egypt’, we can hold together the prayer of hope and liberation. Until we are all liberated and our hostages are safely returned home, let us have the power of ‘Hineni’ and stay united – not only in our prayers but also in our everyday actions.

About the Author
CEO of American Friends of Atid, a U.S.-based non-profit supporting the Atid education network in Israel, renowned for fostering remarkable achievements in children from diverse backgrounds. Over 17 years of experience working in philanthropic nonprofit marketing, communications, and public relations.
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