When the state failed in its most basic duties, ordinary Israelis stepped into the breach with solidarity, selflessness, and sacrifice.
My personal experience living in Jerusalem over this time period. This has been the worst time to be in Israel. And the best time. Just a taste of what has been going on in my little neighborhood of approximately 500 families:
1. As the article mentioned many many more reservists showed up then were called. The army wasn't ready logistically for the number they did call up, let alone the excess. Within hours a small popup organization started asking soldiers what could be bought for them. From food and water to flashlights and leathermen. They raised over $400k and distributed every penny in the form of items bought. Everyone was a volunteer including the drivers who paid for the gas themselves and often were driving into very dangerous areas.
2. Not mentioned often in the media is the 250,000 internally displaced people from the South (near Gaza) and the North (near Hezbollah). These people have to go somewhere. Many were ordered by the government to leave and were therefore provided lodgings by the state. But many many more were recommended to leave. Where do they go? Who can afford to take a months long vacation at a hotel? Our community (along with many others across central Israel) opened their homes to evacuees. Many other volunteers found vacant vacation apartments (like air bnbs) and convinced owners (some live abroad) to let families stay there, personally guaranteeing the physical condition of the apartment and its contents. Other apartments had no furniture at all and had to be furnished from scratch. Again, all of this done exclusively by volunteers.
3. Once a family is settled in an apartment in our neighborhood, we don't just leave them to fend for themselves. Many are now effectively unemployed, their children outside of an educational framework, they need support. We have an adopt a family program where a family from the community is the point of contact for an evacuated family to help them get settled and get them whatever resources can be found.
And it goes on and on and multiplied by hundreds of communities. And it doesnt even scratch the surface of what Shai Graucher is accomplishing (https://www.charidy.com/Chessedvrachamim). We are a resilient people, this past year we have unfortunately forgotten what connects us and focused on what divides us (judicial reform). It is sad that it took this tragedy to being us back together. But we are even closer then we ever have been before.
I'm from a non-Jewish culture that strives hard for that simultaneous importance of the individual and the community--an idea that I didn't know had a name.
But our efforts pale in comparison to Israel. Perhaps because it's been over 150 years since we had to do this in order to even survive. Living on the edge of extinction--as Israelis have for the last 70 years--seems to be very clarifying to mind in determining what is important and what is not.
What’s really striking about this extraordinary article is the similarities between Israel today and America in the 1940’s. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, people from all walks of life dropped everything to enlist. My father was the first person in his family to attend college. The day after Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Navy and served 4 years in the Pacific. Movie stars enlisted and served. Can you imagine any movie stars enlisting today? Me either. How far we have fallen.
It is interesting that prosperity brings division among the population while crisis brings unity. Service should be mandatory in our country to give all a sense of community and shared values. Unfortunately we cannot even recite the pledge of allegiance in our schools or stand, remove our hat and cover our heart during the national anthem. It seems our country is doing so well with basic necessities that conflict and strife permeates. Humans are constantly looking for problems to solve even if they must be created. Every society has a life span, I fear we may be getting close to our end.
"We're not waiting for Israel, We ARE Israel." Inspirational report on a remarkable country and a remarkable people. The Jews might be the toughest folks in the history of the world. God bless them.
Very inspiring and hopeful article.
Fantastic article. I absolutely adore Israel. I lived there for four years in the 80’s and I continue to visit whenever I can. From the moment I walk off the plane you can sense a different atmosphere, joyous, busy, engaging. Israelis really know how to enjoy life. I mean there are outdoor gyms all over Tel Aviv, always engaging conversation and tremendous positivity. This is the Israel I know and love. Am Israel Chai!
Jews outside of Israel are more susceptible to diaspora influences as both intermarriage and childbirth statistics will show, but we too have learned through generations the way in which we should live our lives both through the teachings of our parents who emphasize family, hard work and education and the original rule book for living: the Torah. These are the recipes for our survival for thousands of years while multitudes of conquering peoples have failed to end us have themselves died out. Am ISRAEL chai.
After reading this essay, I confess I have a yearning in my heart now to move to Israel.
There is hope, because Israel exists. Excellent article. Uplifting, in a time of need.
This is a fantastic article. Thank you for sharing some of the spirit that makes Israel and its people so special. I was fortunate to spend six months there in college and sadly haven't been back since, but I look forward to one day introducing my family to that wonderful country.
When you see the Jew hatred in America and the inability of American Jews to stand together, it makes me more humble and grateful to share a common fate with my Israeli brothers and sisters. Israel gives me the strength and courage to keep trying to fight the good fight and to know, that despite all odds, we are on the right side of history.
Good stuff! BTW, sense of community is also an essential element of Christianity, especially in worship services. The secular West has lost the connection and benefits of communal worship and of pitching in to do good works within a group.
It can take a dramatic event to yank people out of their routines and complacency and into a place of unity against peril. I will remind Americans reading this that the 9/11 terrorist attack by the Islamists briefly unified the country, to the extent that polling approval for George Bush spiked to something like 80 percent. The sense of unity and resolve soon began to wane, but while it lasted it was somewhat like what Israeli society is experiencing - and somewhat like Britain felt during the German blitz.
And now, I read that more American Jews are buying guns and going to the range. What’s the saying? A conservative might be a liberal who’s been mugged by reality.
“ Imagine if America went to war. Would Silicon Valley’s start-up founders offer themselves up in this way?” Our selfish spoiled brats that live in this country that live their lives in victimhood? Ha! I don’t think so…
In WWII, after the Greeks said OXI (NO) to Italy's Mussolini, and then fought their invasion successfully, Winston Churchill reportedly said, “Hence, we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks.” I will lend that statement to the Israelis: WE WILL NOT SAY THAT ISRAELIS FIGHT LIKE HEROES, RATHER THAT HEROES FIGHT LIKE ISRAELIS!
Very inspiring and thought provoking article. As an American non-Jew, it makes we wonder what I and other Americans would do if we were put in the position Israel is in. Would we step up as most did in WWII or would we splinter off and hide. I hope we never find out but history says never say never. Israel shows a resiliency and spirit of life sadly lacking in many parts of America.