Following a summer of rocket attacks and incendiary terrorism (fire kites and balloons), Telfed’s Tiyul Club arranged a solidarity tiyul to communities in the Gaza border region.
Beginning in Sderot, we were met by South African veteran Olah Adele Rubin and her husband Mike (a volunteer in the War of Independence).With their assistance, Telfed purchased a large quantity of toys from local Sderot toy stores. Mike joined us on the bus for a brief tour highlighting the significant growth of Sderot over the past five years, despite the ongoing rocket attacks.
Kfar Aza was the next stop — literally a stone’s throw away from the boundary between Gaza and Israel. We were given an enthusiastic welcome to the kibbutz by two longtime residents, SA olim Mervyn and Leah Poliak. Etty — the teacher at the local preschool — guided us through the complex that caters to sixty children and spoke, with great compassion, about the effects of the recurring attacks on the children. Speechless but inspired, we departed for our next stop, Talmei Yosef.
We received a warm welcome from Uri Alon and Ivan Fleisch (an ex-Rhodesian). After a delicious potjiekos lunch, former South African Peter Harris (an English guide at the ‘Salad Trail’) spoke of how a metal sculptor on the moshav is using the Qassam rockets fired on the kibbutz to make art and Judaica. We had an opportunity to purchase local products, doing our bit to help the economy of the moshav before heading to the kindergarten complex to hand over more toys.
At our final destination, Sde Nitzan, we were invited to the home of ex-South Africans, Joe and Eve Isaacson. While enjoying delicious homegrown clementinas (naartjies), their son Elan (head of security for the Eshkol region) gave a detailed explanation about the volatile security situation. Joe and Eve are active members of a volunteer group that provides drinks and sandwiches for soldiers who are based in the Eshkol region. We presented them with a much-needed plastic wrapping machine (donated by ex-South African Eric Jacobson). The volunteers begin making the 150 sandwiches at 5:00am every day, providing a most welcome service to the soldiers who are tasked with protecting them. A drive past the kiosk gave us an opportunity to fully appreciate the wonderful work they do.
This was one of the most rewarding days that I have spent in a long time and my fellow olim echoed my sentiments.
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