Sherwin Pomerantz

The 152nd day of Israel’s war against Hamas

Day 152 of the war and the Israeli Air Force launched attacks on 50 targets in Gaza over the last 24 hours. Sitting here in Jerusalem today we heard three waves of jets enroute to Gaza between 0800-1200, a more intense schedule than we have heard in the past. Writing this at 1400 we can hear yet another wave of planes overhead also presumably on their way to Gaza.  One could easily wonder if this might be a series of last heavy shots on our part before an enforced ease fire takes effect, although there is no confirmation of that happening anytime soon. On the ground Israel continues to move people in Rafah out of harm’s way in anticipation of further military action there.

On the northern border with Lebanon, Hezbollah fired another barrage of rockets overnight, most of which were neutralized by the Iron Dome defense system. Nevertheless, one did get through the screen and damaged yet another home in Kiryat Sh’monah. The IDF leadership commented this morning that the situation on the Lebanese border looks more and more as if it will need to be resolved militarily. Let’s hope that is not the case and that the efforts of US Special Envoy Amos Hochstein will bear fruit.

On the good news track, ten couples (each with at least one member serving in the IDF) were married during a simultaneous ceremony in Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening in what has been described as one of Israel’s largest weddings ever. Tuesday’s mass wedding was part of Chabad of Savyon’s “Marrying the Warriors” initiative. The ceremony included 10 wedding canopies, and each couple was asked to invite 100 guests.

“The war taught us that the people of Israel are all brothers and partners in one fate, so sharing our most special and intimate night with other couples who took part in the war is a decision we are proud of,” Raziel, a reservist in the Egoz guerrilla warfare unit, told Channel 12 News. “Although we didn’t plan to have a big wedding, this project is exactly what we needed,” added Or, the commando’s future wife. “We are establishing not one Jewish home, but 10 in one evening.”

Following the ceremony, a massive party was held for the couples and their guests, with performances by famous performers. May they all successfully build productive lives together in love, friendship and good health.

Future leadership

Today I am profiling Gabi Nachmani, the founder and director of Tenufa Bakehila, the only Israeli non-profit that repairs severely dilapidated housing on a large scale for families in need, while providing personal advocacy that uses the repair of the physical home as a catalyst to help families build a better life.

Tenufa Bakehila works in 20 cities throughout Israel and has repaired over 6,000 homes to date! They help families who have subsisted for years with hazardous and nonfunctional electricity and plumbing, with broken walls and ceilings, without functioning kitchens and showers. Their assistance is provided on as many levels of repair as needed – both physical and social-emotional.

Nachmani has personal experience to back up what he has done so well for this country. At eight years of age and soon after his father died, Nachmani became the “fixer” of his small, two-bedroom home in Jerusalem’s Katamon neighborhood, where he and his two siblings lived with their mother and grandmother. The drip, drip of cold rain coming through the kitchen ceiling beat a steady rhythm into the pail positioned in the middle of the kitchen table. At least once a day during those winters, he or his sister had to empty it to keep it from overflowing.

As a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he formed a group of volunteers that would go to the center city Nachlaot neighborhood on Fridays to help the elderly and the needy with renovations. After graduation, he started a contracting business designed to fix up public housing units, always going the extra mile to do things not covered by the sparse government contract but which still needed to be done.

After marrying his American wife Tina, Nachmani lived in Denver for two years. They returned to Jerusalem in 1993 and Gabi put up a note on his lobby bulletin board offering to help fix things and to help teach residents how to repair their apartments. Recognizing the big demand for home repairs and that Israel did not have a program to help needy homeowners, he decided to raise private funds to expand his efforts.

Nachmani joined Livnot U’Lehibanot (“To Build and Be Built”), a volunteer-based educational and experiential program, and helped create its Community Service Project, an initiative to renovate and rebuild homes for needy families. There he taught volunteers how to upgrade synagogues and homes in disrepair. He ran the Livnot Campus in Jerusalem for 15 years, until it closed. He then began fundraising for a replacement service apart from their educational program, and decided to create Tenufa Bakehila, and the rest is history.

It continues to amaze me the wealth of talent we have in this country over and above the important high-tech sector which everyone knows about. We need all of these people to contribute their time to post-war Israel to put the country back on track. May we all be privileged to see that happen.

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 32 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, regional entities and Invest Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Former Chairperson of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and a Board Member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.