Unity, resilience and community

Sharon and David made Aliyah almost 30 years ago and settled in the seaside city of Ashkelon.

During the recent conflict, Ashkelon residents dealt with an unprecedented barrage of rockets. Sirens sounded at too-frequent intervals, day and night, for days. Sharon reached out to Telfed, “We need help, please.” She went on to explain that their apartment has no mamad (safe room). “We have had to run down three floors on a non-stop basis. We are exhausted, traumatised… other residents in our building are near collapse.”

While they were fortunate to have a communal shelter in their building, it was in a state of disrepair, and they were desperate for help so that the space could be ‘somewhat livable’. Her concern for the safety of elderly and sickly neighbours, who could not make it to the shelter in time, prompted her to reach out.

At times of crisis, we are reminded of the resilience and kindness of our olim, the strength of our community, and the lifelong connection that our olim share with Telfed. Once a list of required essential items was received, we discovered that deliveries from local shops were delayed due to the security situation. Telfed’s Ashkelon Regional Volunteer and veteran oleh, David Zwebner, tackled the problem and ensured that the necessary supplies were purchased and delivered (between rockets and sirens) to Sharon, David and their neighbours.

In recent weeks, we have seen and experienced the true essence of Israel. Israelis from all walks of life united in support of one another. In a message to the community, outgoing Telfed Chairman Batya Shmukler, relayed her impressions as a mother of two soldiers, “I am incredibly proud to live in Israel, our only home. Despite incessant rocket attacks, a total stranger brought shwarma to my son and his unit. Another resident near Gaza prepared homemade schnitzel for them in case they were hungry. Other Jewish parents are stepping in to look after my children, our children. It is a reminder that we are like family.”

South African olim initiated projects to support those in the south. They opened their homes to host residents of the Gaza border communities and collected and delivered clothes, food, toys and other supplies to those under heavy fire. Telfed staff and volunteers made hundreds of calls to South African olim in the most affected communities to check in on them, and see if they needed any assistance. Telfed CEO Dorron Kline took cover (twice) in Tel Aviv on his way to delivering welcome packs to our newest olim in their quarantine hotel.

From the moment the ceasefire came into effect, it was business as usual. Our new olim, who have had to contend with changing Covid-related aliyah requirements and rocket fire, now know they can handle anything — including the infamous bureaucracy of immigration. Among our new arrivals in 2021 are a number of young olim who are waiting to begin their army service. We are ever grateful to our soldiers and look forward to hosting over 100 South African Lone Soldiers at our annual Lone Soldier brunch this August.

Telfed www.telfed.org.il

• Published in the PDF edition of the July 2021 issue – Download here.

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