The Other Side of Israel’s 9/11

The Other Side of Israel’s 9/11

Even after 30 years in our highly-contested homeland, I’ve never witnessed anything that comes close to the horror Israel experienced this Simchat Torah. The barbaric targetting of elderly women, mothers and children. 1300 Israelis murdered and 3300 injured. This is the highest Israeli death toll of any military campaign since the Yom Kippur War 50 years ago last month. The highest death toll of civilians since the War of Independence.

But there’s another side to what’s happening in Israel that you won’t read about in any newspaper and that I want to share with you.
This nearly unprecedented horror has been met by an equal and opposite outpouring of unity, generosity and love, which I will try to give you a taste of through a taste of the bustling Nshei whatsapp group of the tiny shul on the tiny street that I call home.
Early this morning a group member asked whose husbands had been called up for reserve duty. Around 10 women responded “Me.” Most of these husbands (may each of them and all of our soldiers return home safe and sound!) were called away suddenly to the battle front in the middle of the shul’s Simchat Torah hakafot.
Within minutes a group member said her husband was offering to take down the succot of all the reservists’ wives, free of charge.
Then I posted that my 13-year-old daughter and her friend were going to make a free camp later that day in the local bomb shelter, for children of reservists and children who’d fled from the South.
Then another mother posted that after my daughter’s camp there would be 2 special activities for the reservists’ children at the shul (“bomb shelter on the premises,”) followed by a home-cooked dinner.
Then a post on another topic, many soldiers, it turned out, had rushed straight to the front without stopping at home to pick up basic necessities: socks, toiletries, towels etc. There was a drop-off site on the other side of Jerusalem, so I posted that I was volunteering to drive donations from my neighborhood to the collection site. Over the next few hours about 8 of my neighbors stopped by or sent their children over with bags full of newly-purchased supplies for the soldiers, which my 18-year-old daughter later drove across the city to donate.
Then another post, a battalion stationed just north of Jerusalem was low on food. Who could cook lunch for them? The drop-off site was one street over, so I made a big pot of soup and my 11-year-old son (with some assistance from his big sister) prepared 4 packages of couscous. When my son and I arrived at the apartment of the family that was collecting the food, there was already enough food for a feast, and when I left I passed two other families bearing gifts: freshly-baked rolls and a tray of baked potatoes.
In Israel people say that wars are won thanks to a strong army as well as a strong “Oref” (the civilian homefront).
After dropping off the soup for the hungry battalion, I was thinking how in the Torah the Jewish people are criticized for being an Am Kashe Oref, a stiff-necked people.
But I thought how today we could understand this phrase differently, we are an Am Kashe Oref, we are a strong, determined homefront that stands up for our brave troops and our embattled country.
Please Hashem!
Bless the wounded with a full recovery.
And the dozens of hostages with a safe return home.
And the grieving family members of the murdered with comfort
And all of us reeling from the last 48 hours, with peace. And security. And hope.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. The moments of beauty amidst the horror. We are davening for you and crying with you.

  2. Shira Schreier

    Beautiful post. I am sharing with all my relatives both in Israel and overseas. Thank you.

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