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Please Dear God, Stop This War

There are no words to describe this Israel – Hamas War 2023, the horrors, the atrocities, the innocent victims, the unbearable suffering of parents and families on both sides, the destruction. All I can do is to pray, "Please dear God stop this War, save Israel, make peace and save the lives of all innocent human beings on both sides of the fence".

This issue has garnered a collection of War related stories. They depict personal tragedies, experiences, and observations, heroism, efforts to rehabilitate young evacuees and traumatized adults.

Our cover is not the start but the ending, a Wall of Hope in the street by artist Beno, expressing a combination of sadness and a sudden strong feeling of love for our country Israel. October 7 A Day of Barbarism by Larry Butchins ruminates on the atrocities of that day which molested the Zionist dream and innocent beliefs of Zion's settlers. He writes: "But we are a nation that despite the mauling of October 7 has come back stronger, more determined to recover, hopefully more unified, … to create a new paradigm … based on patriotism rather than nationalism." Lydia Aisenberg in "Imagine a Life of Peace for Israeli Children" tells us how children evacuated from Nachal Oz, their home on the Israel-Gaza border, are living temporarily in Kibbutz Mishmar Haemek and mingling with the locals.

"I am not ok" cries out Avi Maltz, who lives in the South of the country, and outlines just why. Aviva Lavi describes the moments of panic when she hears a siren in Tel Aviv. Maurit Beeri writes that they have 90 Seconds to carry to the shelter the young children with disabilities who are being treated at Alyn Hospital in Jerusalem.

There are other scenes in this war period – animals which were left behind when their owners were taken hostage, murdered or mobilized were rescued by Tzukit Raviv so that they would not starve, at her petting zoo in Kibbutz Ein Harod. One of the most moving stories is of Ido, the only child left on a small moshav which was evacuated. He was without friends, without a classroom, a school or after-school activities, when the reservist soldiers guarding the moshav integrated him into their daily routine activities and football games. Pessy Krausz in "Soldiers Tales" describes the plight of her three grandsons who are mobilized. Thousands and thousands of students and adults have been volunteering to help farms and factories left without workers, and on the home front collecting and sorting clothes and equipment for evacuated families et al. Every Friday Adrian Wolff transports cooked and baked food and fresh challah prepared by local residents, to be distributed amongst army units stationed outside the border with Gaza in the South, and Lebanon in the North.

ESRA too has been helping in the war effort in various ways including giving immediate emergency financial aid to families affected by the war. In addition, over 1,000 ESRA volunteers continue to be active in the community, helping the evacuees with the difficulties of the day-to-day tasks. This includes 600 Education and Teacher Support volunteers who go to hotels and evacuation centers to help children learn English, and hold enrichment and relief activities while providing online curriculum-based programs for children learning from home.

Temporary schools have been set up within days for evacuee children using adults from different professions to act as teachers, writes Yael Biber Aviad. Immediately following October 7, GrayMatters Health moved into action making plans for Tranquility Dome to rapidly deploy the company's Prism for post-trauma individuals in need in Israel, raising large sums of money to do so and mobilizing hospitals for the project.

Siblings Noa and Gidi Chiel who loved music, dance and life itself to the fullest, were brutally murdered at the Supernova Festival – Lydia Asienberg writes of their funeral in the Valley of Tears. Alina Phlati too was murdered at Nova; she grew up in Israel, led as Jewish a life as any Israeli, served in the IDF, lit Shabbat candles, placed a mezuza on her doorpost, but had to be buried outside the fence because the Beit She'an Religious Council claimed that the correct papers to be considered Jewish had never been filed. Benji Trakeniski, an officer in the IDF, rushed to Be'eri to help save people, but was tragically killed – his mother Liz's eulogies at his funeral and memorial service are heart-rending.

Read the excellent first two winning stories of our Youth Short Story Competition – The Bakery on Newtown Street by Reut Widawsky and Final Story by Anat Garner. Star tutor Sapir Elkobi, a student in our ETP project, was awarded the Lola Katz Scholarship.

Pamela Peled met Ruth Rasnic, a female tour de force, who founded the first shelter for women in Israel, amongst her many other amazing achievements. Galia Miller Sprung writes about how she, then a new immigrant on a small moshav, had the excitement of meeting Rachel Ben Zvi, former first lady of Israel and Prime Minister Golda Meir.

I am always in awe of the courage and determination of people with disabilities. Read "Beware Snails", a play written and acted by adults with emotional problems, and "A Runner with a Soul" which talks about Beza who is a blind runner.

There are other interesting articles on photography, preparing for Succoth in Bnei Brak, "Sally the Tour Guide", a Holocaust story; "Black-Cone-headed Grasshoppers" by Prof. Berry Pinshow; Nimrod's Lookout in Rosh Pina; "Letters from Eilat 1952", memories from Israel's history; bridge by Alan Caplan; humor by Jennia Chodorov; and more. Enjoy them all. 

 

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Friday, 19 July 2024

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