Over the past month, hundreds of people have brought, and countless others have sent, thousands upon thousands of bags of everything you can imagine to Israel. From batteries to first aid kits to army equipment to clothing for the displaced; the outpouring of generosity has exceeded all expectations. The community of Boca Raton, FL, where I lived before making aliyah, sent 102 bags filled with supplies to Israel on a solidarity mission with Rabbis Goldberg, Brody and Gibber. The level of support and logistical efforts involved in this massive undertaking has been unbelievable and is a true testament to the achdut, or unity, of the Jewish people globally.
Simultaneously, there has been an unprecedented surge in donations made to Israel. People are sending whatever they have via cash, venmo, or credit cards, without concern for tax-deductions or write-offs. The sole focus being to swiftly direct financial support to Israel. This global solidarity and connection to Israel are unprecedented, fortifying both the nation and the Jewish community.
Yet, what initially felt like a 100-meter sprint has transformed into a full-blown marathon. Soldiers are now bracing themselves for extended periods on bases or in Gaza. The northern region faces the imminent threat of war erupting any day, as the Shomron, Chevron, and the Gush areas experience heightened tensions with daily battles unfolding.
As we pass the 5-mile marker, it’s crucial to slow our pace and avoid burning out in our support for Israel. Recognizing that budgets are finite and considering the extensive tasks ahead during and after the war, it’s essential to strategize effectively. Here are three suggestions to help and support Israel’s immediate needs during the ongoing conflict and preparing for the post-war scenarios.
- Spend, spend and spend some more – fill those duffle bags with Israeli goods. The Israeli economy is hurting as many shops and stores are closed as their owners and staff serve in the IDF. Home-based businesses, often run by wives and mothers, are encountering difficulties in maintaining their businesses and attracting new customers amidst the ongoing war. Businesses geared towards tourists have no clients or reservations for the typically busy “holiday season” and those that cater to parents and relatives living abroad looking to send gifts or food items to gap-year students are not receiving their usual business inquiries as many foreign students have left. I suggest that the duffel bags, initially filled with goods and supplies brought to Israel, be returned to America laden with Israeli products. This gesture not only aids local businesses but also serves as a tangible expression of solidarity during these challenging times.
- Support those supporting the front lines. People worldwide are purchasing and delivering equipment, food, and supplies for our soldiers, ensuring they have most, if not all, of the essentials they need, including hot meals and treats. What our soldiers do not have is peace of mind for the families they left behind. These are the ones who have been forgotten – the milluim families, many of whom are wives of soldiers, home alone with young children, some living in areas where schools or nurseries are still not back in session, causing stress levels to soar. These families jump at every phone call, with many struggling to find the energy to work or prepare meals for themselves after tending to their children’s needs. Or the soldiers working tirelessly 24/7 in a crime lab, facing the unimaginable task of identifying bodies from October 7 and those discovered in Gaza—experiences that no human should endure. Or the displaced families residing in hotels or in AirBNBs with minimal clothing or toys. It’s crucial to extend our help to these individuals. Whether it’s delivering a comforting dinner, a thoughtful toy, or special food for Shabbat, these acts serve as a powerful reminder that people are thinking of them and their families during these trying times.
- Post-war support for families and soldiers. Communities will need to be rebuilt and houses refurbished. Clothing will need to be purchased for children and adults. Soldiers will need help financially and medically, including therapy for PTSD. Israel has not had a chance to mourn or breathe since the horrible attack on October 7th and many people need to rebuild their families and lives. For some, this will take months and for many, this will take years. Money will be needed to help all the organizations that will be involved in helping rebuild Israel both physically and mentally.
The incredible outpouring of support and the influx of volunteers and visitors to Israel have been tremendous. Israel and its people are strong and resilient, and we will persevere. But in order to do that, we must bunker down and know that this will not be over in a month and the support we will need from abroad must continue to flow in a steady and organized manner to ensure that every aspect of Israeli society can recover and be stronger and more resilient than ever before.