Date: July 30, 2006 2:48 PM
There are four buses parked outside the public school just down my
block . The buses fill up with tens of soldiers who are on their way
up to the north .They are reserves. I can see some men in uniform in
the playground, pushing their young kids on the swing. They don't
know when they will be back. 2 weeks ago, on Friday night, Shabbat,
in the middle of the night, 3 other buses left from the same
location. From all over the country different units are called to
meet at their location to be bused up with their group.
We are in our 21st day of the war.
Though in Ra'anana rockets do not fly, and for that we are totally
grateful, there IS a local daily war effort.
Two weeks ago our shul e-mail sent out an urgent message. 150 people
have arrived at the local dormitory school. They need towels. "We
want 100 towels, new or used by 7:30 *tonight*". When I dropped some
off at 7 it looked like they had met their goal.
Next e-mail, same day, due to lack of time "we" (a local young rabbi
and his family) bought groceries and toiletries for these 150 who had
literally fled their homes in the north. We are looking for donations
to cover the cost of items *that have already been bought and
distributed.* Talk about cutting out the middle men. Talk about
taking matters into your own hands.
Later in the week the municipality of Ra'anana asked for residents to
house people from up north. At first I thought, it was enough, I had
done my part. There wasn't much room and I'm not home during the day
to look after strangers in my house. But then I thought, they are
fellow Jews with missiles landing near their homes. Some are old, and
some are babies and they are running EVERY HOUR to the local shelter
because they live in apartments without a useable shelter.
So I called and offered our house. I called 3 times to offer because
no-one was taking me up on my offer. After that I realized that God
was sending me a message. If no-one is coming and you offered 3
times, then maybe he is giving you a break!
The next day they joyfully called and told me they had found the
perfect family, dati , 2 young kids from Tzfat.
"They are in a bad way," the social worker said. They want to leave
first thing tomorrow morning (it was Thursday night). I called right
away, to "invite" this family.
"Well. we aren't sure. My husband wants to be with the family for
It turns out that this is not uncommon. The wives want to get away
and the husbands prefer to stick it out.
"Call me after Shabbat", I said, if you still want to come.
I haven't heard from them.
Our kids keep asking, are they coming? are they coming? They want
Earlier in the week another e-mail went out that an organization
called "Table to Table that collects food for the needy and delivers
packages was putting together packages for the soldiers. Asking for
volunteer to help pack I went, (Elisheva brought Elana, Avital and
Eitan were still in camp) 3 long tables were set up, assembly-line
style in a dark, un-air-conditioned warehouse. Donated goods from
Elite, and private donations, were swiftly loaded into individual
bags, chips, chocolate bars, jelly beans, sometimes soap, then tied
and tossed into a huge crate. We filled one crate every 12 minutes.
We filled about 10 such crates in an hour. Then huge guys loaded the
crates up onto 2 trucks, which were driven up north to be handed out
From the beginning of the war a family in R'anana has used their
house a place to drop off cakes to give to residents in the north as
a small treat to let them know we care and that it is hard to bake
for Shabbat when you are running all day to the shelters. They
collect from 8-10 Friday morning and have someone drive the cakes up
for Shabbat. After 2 Fridays they asked us to please pack up and send
some art supplies to occupy the kids who are stuck for hours in the
shelter. So it was a chance for people to get rid of all their extra
coloring books and stuff. Some people even went out and bought new
art supplies. I went out and bought different art supplies, window
paints and transparencies, markers and construction paper, mosaic
tiles and cardboards and glue. I found some old shoe boxes ( a few
too many of those in my house) and small gift boxes and made boxes of
2 craft projects each for about 10 kids. Then we printed big
labels "craft projects made by Eitan , Avital, Elana and Noam
Fortinsky, Akiva 73 Rannana." Sometimes people want to know where its
from to thank you and put a name or family to a gift. Anyway, when I
delivered the boxes on Friday morning I saw there were tables of
stuff, cakes, coloring books, reading books a few toys. The organizer
came over and thanked me over and over. "how did you think to package
it,? Where did you get the boxes? If everyone would package we
wouldn't have to spend hours sorting through tables of stuff and
repackaging into boxes!"
I really didn't realize it was a big deal . I just thought it would
be easier to hand out that way.
On Shabbat my friend came over to me and said she started crying when
she saw my small boxes. Of course she was there delivering her brand
new craft materials and books but she said she was so moved to see
the names of the kids and those neat small boxes that she just
You see, everyone is making an effort. Everyone is trying. Because
this is our war. Though we are not on the front lines, our friends
kids are. When Benjy Hillman of Shwartz streeet in Ra'anana's apache
helicopter crashed,everyone was affected. He was married 3 weeks
before. When Ro'I Klein, father, husband and son, who grew up in
Ra'anana, was killed as he threw himself on a grenade in Binj Bent in
order to successfully save his 2 fellow soldiers, all fellow Jews
were amazed at his bravery.
Although we aren't on the front lines we are the home front
supporting them and our need to help and their needs, are our
The rav said this Shabbat that Rambam, in Hilchot Melachim, talks
about a war like this. It is not a war for our children, or our
parents or even for our country. It is a war for Hashem. WE are doing
the fighting for him. All of our soldiers truly know that. That is
how they can throw their own bodies on a grenade. Because the Mesirut
Nefesh for Hashem is what drives all of us to do our best, and we all
pray. It is what will help to rebuild the Beit Hamikdash , in our
So, that is what we are doing these days in Ra'anana, and that is
what it is like living in Israel during a war and I hope I got some
of the feeling across in a way different from the regular media.
Wishing you all a Tzom Mo'eel,