Thursday, September 01, 2005

A World Built Upon Kindness ("Olam Chessed Yibaneh")

Yesterday I was privileged to spend the day handing out backpacks to the children of Gush Katif who were expelled from their homes, and who are starting school today. The campaign, sponsored by World Mizrachi was done in recognition that among the last things going through the minds of the families who were expelled from their homes was of the need to buy their children school supplies for the coming year. To see the smiles on the face of the children, and the appreciation of the parents is something that I will not soon forget, and I was blessed to have been able to have been able to bring even a small amount of happiness to these holy Jews who deserve so much better.

One consistent theme that I noticed throughout the various locations that I visited was the kindness extended by the Jewish People to take care of their Jewish brothers and sisters. No, I am not talking about the government, but of non-official initiatives started by Jews who said that they felt the need to help.

We visited Kibbutz Chafetz Chaim and Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh which have both opened their doors, beds, dining rooms, synagogues... to these Jews. At Kibbutz Chafetz Chaim, where the vast majority of the former Yishuv of Ganei Tal is located, I heard time and again how at home they have been made to feel, and that they are under no pressure from the Kibbutz to leave anytime soon.

We visited the tent city at Netivot, full of former residents of Kfar Darom, which they have renamed "The City of Faith". They are living on land that was donated by a landowner in Netivot, who not only gave these Jews the land, but also is renovating an enormous hothouse in order to build a roof over the heads of these Jews, so that come the winter, they will be able to stay dry.

Throughout the day I came across Jews from all over Israel who had come to help these holy Jews of Gush Katif however they could.

Do not get me wrong. Life is not easy for the Jews who have been expelled from their homes, and even with all the smiles, the sadness, mourning and shock is still there. There is a sense of betrayal at the hands of the government, not just for throwing them out of their homes, but for not having anything ready for them after the fact. Yet, in the midst of all the darkness, Am Yisrael is responding to the mission to help their Jewish brothers and sisters in need.

There is much that needs to be done, and everyone can find a way on their own level to help. This is about helping a fellow Jew, and transcends any political beliefs that one may have.

Before we left Be'er Sheva, one of the Jews who was forced to live out of a hotel expressed to me how she wished that there was a way for her to repay the kindness that we were showing her. I told her that all I wanted in return was an invitation to spend Shabbat with her family after they are able to return to, and rebuild their home in Gush Katif.

The spirit of kindess that binds the Jewish People together can never be extinguished, even (or especially) during trying times like these. It is this spirit of kindess and compassion that is shared by one Jew for his brother that will not only allow the Jewish People to endure this tragedy that has befallen us, but it will also serve as the foundation upon which the future Jewish State of Israel will be built - unending love for our fellow Jews.

May we merit to see it speedily in our days!


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