In Israel, all people of conscience are trying to support the war effort against the murderous Hamas…wherever they are hiding. Worldwide, people of that same conscience are marching in support of Israel’s right to fight for its survival. International support takes many forms.
Everyone I know is suggesting important organizations to support. There are so many. The One Family Fund wrote me that they had more victims of terror in one day from the Hamas slaughter on October 7th, kidnappings, and burnings of people and their homes…than they have had in the entire twenty + years of their existence. These victims (some of which had their homes burned to the ground), need absolutely everything that we can supply for them. Organizations to support the Israel Defense Forces… Magen David Adom… Hatzallah…The Michael Levin Center for Lone Soldiers…Zaka…the list is endless and every one of these organizations is doing amazing work. A friend said to me today that everything she has acquired in this life, is a gift from God. Thus, for her… giving to others is easy, as it was never really “hers” to begin with.
Groups of friends are making thousands of sandwiches daily for the soldiers. Others are driving to the border troops to deliver supplies. Others are funding the purchase of special ceramic vests to protect the soldiers. One friend takes a list of the names of fifty soldiers who are her own, and her friends’ grandchildren, and prays for them at the Kotel mentioning each of their names each evening. In mountaintop communities in the North of Israel, soldiers have been assigned to protect the entrances to the communities, the kindergartens, the schools. These communities are often surrounded by Arab villages which are normally friendly, but have shown to be otherwise in previous confrontations. The members of these communities invite the soldiers to their homes to take showers, eat a good meal, wash their laundry. They cook for the soldiers and deliver meals to them where they are guarding. Everyone is finding a way to help, with money, with time, with Prayers.
Fox News kindly advertises that donations to help Israel can be made to the Jewish Federation in New York and puts the information for its viewers on their television screen regularly.
Israel’s economy is in a unique situation, as most of our manual labor is done under normal conditions by foreign workers (specifically Thai), and Arab workers who were until this war allowed into Israel from Gaza in order to earn a decent wage and fill the employment need in certain areas such as farming and construction. The entry of these Arab workers is now impossible. The Thai workers fled the country in terror once the attacks occurred on October 7th. Israel can do without construction during this war…but our farmers are also unable to harvest their crops. Our grocery stores are short of Arab workers to stock their shelves. The food supply is often interrupted, and we do not know how long this war will continue. The longer the war continues, the more shortages we will experience.
It was very sweet to hear that a number of religious young women have volunteered to work in grocery stores to help them restock their shelves. Their labor is greatly appreciated, although the store owners (who are making a profit themselves) need to pay them and not simply accept their generosity of spirit. An idea came to me today…a win-win for both the stores and the volunteers: The stores should pay each worker at the end of the day not with money, but with food/ food coupons which have the total value of the day’s labor. This solves all issues with taxes etc for employees, and makes the food available to those in need. It is a winning concept for the store itself, as they paid wholesale for products now being used as payment at retail values. Hence this temporary labor is actually discounted for the store owners. Food is the one business which can thrive during wartime… as long as the food is harvested and delivered to the retailers.
It is reported that Haredi young men are signing up for the army “in record numbers.” That does not tell us a great deal. It would be more helpful to know what percentage those young men represent from their communities. At issue, is the balance of those in the Ultra-religious communities who are needed and whose Rosh Yeshivas have not mobilized yet, to assist in this war effort.
It is basic to Jewish core beliefs to help the less fortunate. We feel responsible for one another. Israel is credited with having the highest volunteer rate per capita in the world. We don’t just talk about caring for others…we do what needs to be done. In that spirit, I would like to suggest that it is time for the Rosh Yeshivas to prove to their young scholars, that there is a time to put the books aside and do “Chesed”… lovingkindness. It is time for them to ask their supporters to supply busses to transport their students to the farmers looking a fields of ripe produce, ready for harvesting. Without young hands to help… not only the farmers will suffer…but we will all suffer when the grocery shelves are bare. I have been advised that there are some Yeshivas which are already volunteering, but it needs to be a massive effort as not all have joined in this effort.
There is a time for philosophy and then there is a time to make a difference in this world. I am calling on all Yeshivas looking at their study halls full of students who are immersed in text, to tell them to put the books aside. Their families, their neighbors and their country -needs them…NOW. Bring in the busses and roll up those sleeves of their white shirts. Pick tomatoes, fruit, lettuce, cucumbers… grapes. Help feed our people while others are carrying the arms in order to protect us.
For all of us who participate in this effort to support Israel’s survival, (whether in Israel or abroad,) the memories of our own contributions in this war effort will enrich our spirit when we once again are able to return to the ways of life we have always cherished.