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The Day Everything Changed

Eli and Josh Rudolph delivering supplies

About five minutes after the end of Shabbat on October 7, I had a call from a member of Shivtei Yisrael shul asking if I was ready. Until that moment I had been the coordinator of the Raanana shul's chesed committee that helped members during times of need, mostly through a WhatsApp group. I had no clue when I heard those words what lay ahead and what the following months would look like.

About 20 minutes later I got the first request from a unit in the south asking for supplies. On October 8, we sent out at least six requests on the Shivtei chesed group and by that night we already received our first video from soldiers thanking us for what we had sent out that day. By October 9, my phone number had spread far and wide. I remember receiving a call from a soldier asking for ceramic vests and helmets. I was shocked I didn't even know what a ceramic vest was and couldn't understand why he was asking Eli Rudolph from Raanana for them! "I can give you socks," I replied.

During the next few days and weeks the WhatsApp group grew from approximately 190 people to over 470. My army vocabulary has expanded since then in unimaginable ways. I learnt very quickly what a chamal was after I was informed that was what Josh and I were operating from our dining room table. [Chamal is a Hebrew acronym that stands for cheder matzav l'milchama, meaning war room or, as in this case, an operation center that is set up to help with the war effort.]

Here are just some of the ways people have responded to requests sent through the Shivtei chesed group:

  • Helping displaced families from the south and north find accommodation, with meal rotas, homeware and appliances.
  • Helping the families staying at the Prima Hotel in Raanana with school stationery, diapers, formula, toys and clothing and volunteering to help the evacuees directly in many different ways.
  • Providing soldiers with sandwiches, hot Shabbat meals, desserts and treats, fruit and vegetables, snacks and protein bars.
  • Providing soldiers with socks, underwear, thermals, plasters, batteries, sleeping bags.
  • Trying to source more unusual requests from army bases, such as laminating machines, kettles, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, tents.
  • Distributing medical supplies, sent from around the world or purchased with the donations received, to bases and medical facilities around the country.
  • People driving thousands of kilometers to deliver food and supplies to soldiers and taking extras in cars and vans, just to be able to hand out things to soldiers along the way who may need what we had to offer. One volunteer drove all the way up north (when it was still allowed); from there to the airport to pick up bags of supplies that he dropped off in Raanana, and then went to take another delivery way down south all in one day.
  • Helping the families of parents serving in miluim. This amazing group set up and run by Rabbanit Etta Bendavid was instrumental in alleviating the stress of single parenthood sprung upon so many families with meals, babysitting and just general love and support.
  • Helping soldiers with their needs when they returned home for the measly hours they were granted. The Shivtei soldiers' "one stop shop" was an invaluable resource for soldiers to come and collect everything they would need all in one place and all kindly donated by people contributing to the Shivtei war appeal.
  • Ladies volunteering to repair and wash soldiers' uniforms.
  • People volunteering their professional services to soldiers for free hairdressers, physical therapists, and other medical professionals.
  • People from all over the world generously donating money that is administered behind the scenes by my husband Josh, who is working non-stop to ensure that the millions of shekels donated are distributed honestly to all the places in need, and keeping track of every cent.

Unfortunately, this look back over the past few months doesn't mark an end to our work. It is all still continuing, and more help may even be needed. But it's good to say a huge thank you to everyone for everything you have done so far, and to pray for better times for us all very soon. 

 

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Thursday, 13 June 2024

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