Emily Levy-Shochat

Where there is a will, there is a way

Today I learned that even the seeming impossible can be achieved—at least in some situations. The day after the war began, Jeremy, a man I took a furniture repair course with, anticipated the need for furniture to help evacuees settle in new places or return to damaged homes and sent out a request asking people to bring items to his workshop where he would store them until needed. Yesterday -12 days into the war I helped load the tables, chairs, irobot, beds, sofas—you name it –in to two huge moving vans and my car, packed to the gills.

I followed the trucks to Tzur Yitzhak (named after Yitzhak Rabin), a small town near my city, not knowing exactly where we were going nor who would meet us. I quickly got the picture—60 families from a range of southern settlements and cities had taken up residence in two brand new, empty apartment buildings. Hila, an evacuee herself, and mother of 6 (including a 3- week old baby) had contacted all the families asking what they would like in order to make their bare temporary quarters feel as homey as possible. Thanks to an incredibly generous response to Jeremy’s request we were able to bring almost everything. As we unloaded onto the sidewalk, men, women and many children came out of the buildings to see what had arrived, what they could take. Although some were clearly stressed, the overall feeling was light, friendly, communal. No squabbling over items which more than one wanted, no lost tempers, no arguments. It almost didn’t feel like Israel! Hila gained my total admiration for her ability to focus on the task despite some glitches, to be sensitive and respectful to her peers and to also give her own kids and husband attention. An amazing woman. My candidate for an Israel Prize!

So-what taught me that “where there is a will, there is a way”? Two things-
Anyone who has built or bought a new apartment or house in Israel knows that the most challenging task along the way is getting a “tofes4″— official permission to take occupancy. Waiting moths, sometimes even more than a year is standard. A bureaucratic maze of the electric company and municipal offices renders the new homeowners frustrated, angry, powerless. Thanks to a war-the tofes 4 stumbling block was quickly removed for the buildings in Tzur Yitzhak. The powers that be were able to make it happen because it had to happen.

And, secondly, although we Israelis are known for being impolite, for yelling and beeping mercilessly on the roads—when the will, the need, to be otherwise arises—we meet it. The degree of volunteerism by army reservists and citizens of all ages is, frankly, beyond description. It is empowering for us all.

Yesterday I was energized but today I am tired –physically, but more so emotionally and psychologically. I am worried-very worried. Tomorrow will be two weeks since it began. We have achieved a lot in these two weeks—although we have lost more than can ever be understood. Life has gotten “back to normal” in many ways but not really. Most of us are living in an unnatural quiet period. Something like the feeling on Yom Kippur -but that is finite and special in many respects. This is eerie. I fear that this is the quiet before the next storm.

What is next? Will the land invasion begin? Will Hizbollah join in? Will we continue to find sources of resilience? I pray that our will to get out of this horror will guide us to the answers.

Shabbat shalom

About the Author
Born in Liberty, New York, Emily made Aliya almost 50 years ago. Her career has focused on grassroots community development, educational and social services for populations at need and development of the non-profit sector in Israel including senior positions at the NCJW Research Center for Innovation in Education at Hebrew University, the Schwartz Program at Hebrew University, the Israel Movement for Reform Judaism, the Moriah Fund, the Honey Foundation for Israel, the Counseling Center for Women and the Israel Heart Fund. Emily currently serves on the Boards of Mercaz Olami, WZO Presidium, the JAFI Board of Governors, KKL-JNF and the Association for Ethiopian Jewry.
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