Merav Galili

Seeking the roses among 2023’s thorns

The grave of an Israeli soldier at Mount Herzl military cemetery. (Michal Fattal/Flash90)
The grave of an Israeli soldier at Mount Herzl military cemetery. (Michal Fattal/Flash90)

As we bid farewell to the hectic year of 2023, one cannot ignore the tragedies that have struck our communities. But amidst the darkness, we must seek out the roses among the thorns—small blossoms of hope that signify resilience, unity, and a commitment to rebuilding.

The murderous incursion of October 7 left us grappling with unimaginable cruelty and loss. After a year of unprecedented political turmoil, we were suddenly confronted with horror over the brutality of the attacks, deep pain for those killed, and terrible worry for those kidnapped. Yet, the aftermath of that fateful day has sparked a transformation in the collective consciousness in Israel. The accusatory fingers pointing at “him” and “them” turned into a resounding chant of “Together we will win.” It was as if a spell had been broken, and a newfound realization dawned upon us—we could only triumph together.

The war has become a rallying point, uniting not just the people of Israel within its borders but also deeply resonating across the Diaspora. Volunteering rates for the reserves soared to unprecedented levels, with young Israelis from around the globe answering the call to return and enlist. El-Al pilots worked tirelessly to bring them home, exemplifying a commitment to a collective sense of service. The profound love and unity within our ranks were also exposed. Cut off from the world for extended periods, soldiers’ messages and videos exuded a deep connection to the people and land they were defending. It became a testament to the unbreakable bond that held the nation together.

Citizens, fueled by a similar sense of solidarity and compassion, initiated countless projects to aid those Israelis displaced by the conflict and the soldiers enlisted in the heist. From essential supplies to emotional support, the outpouring of generosity was awe-inspiring. Whether it was individuals cooking and delivering meals to soldiers or companies dispatching boxes of equipment to bases and evacuees, the nation stood united in its efforts.

Amidst the challenges, civil society indeed emerged as a powerhouse. Foundations and non-profits have leveraged their expertise and networks to address the specific needs of a nation at war. The Menomadin Foundation, with its expertise in impacting long-term system change in partnership with governments, both local and national, is leading efforts to reinforce municipal resilience in conflict-prone areas. Additionally, it is working to ensure the continued success of Israeli entrepreneurship by bolstering the impact-oriented startups it invested in throughout this time of uncertainty. This dual focus aims to strengthen the resilience, both economic and general, that will drive the country’s recovery after the war.

In 2023, we have witnessed the worst of humanity, but we have also witnessed the best. While challenges tested our collective resolve, they also unveiled the enduring strength found in compassion, community, and collaboration. Looking ahead to 2024 and beyond, it is our shared responsibility to safeguard and perpetuate this spirit of solidarity as a nation.

About the Author
Dr. Merav Galili is the CEO of the Menomadin Foundation, an international Israeli-based impact fund that promotes innovative solutions to sustainable development challenges in Israel and Africa, in a model that combines strategic philanthropy and impact investments. Over two decades in senior management positions in academia and non-profit organizations, Dr. Galili has specialized in establishing local and international partnerships to promote business and social initiatives. In her last position, she served as Vice President for Development at Bar-Ilan University.
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