Rochel! Rochel! Her sister-in-law shakes her with one hand as she holds her cell-phone with the other. “Bring water, quick! She fainted!”
Her husband rushes in from the living room, also with a cell-phone to his ear. Rochel opens her eyes and is horrified. She takes a look at her husband and jumps up. She grabs the children and rushes outside. Her husband grabs his hat and coat and follows after her.
“Call a taxi!” Rochel shouts. She rushes down the stairs carrying her baby, while the other children run together with her husband. “Until the taxi shows up…”
“Should we take the bus? We have to get here as fast as we can!” She kept on running to the bus stop, running to get back home.
“Why? Rochel,there’s nothing we can do. The fire trucks are already there.” His feet were beginning to falter.
She collapsed on the nearest bench and put her baby down beside her.“I need to see what happened! Is anything left? Our whole life was in that house!” She clasped her hands together and bit her lip, holding back her tears. She didn’t want to cry here in the middle of the street. Her children all came to sit next to her on the bench, with a puzzled look on their faces, “What happened? What are Ima and Abba so worried about?”
Exactly 13 years ago, her father was killed in a terrorist attack. Shabbos of Chanukah was his yahrtzeit. Now, on Motzaei Shabbos, she hears that all their possessions went up in smoke.
When they’re just a few blocks away from home, the smell of smoke already stings their lungs. As they get closer, it gets harder to breathe. The neighbors and onlookers are gathered outside the building. Fire trucks and ambulances flash their colored lights on the nearby buildings, while streams of thick, black smoke pour out from every window of their home. They arrived, and this was their home – or it used to be. Everyone looked at them with pity.
Covered in Ashes
The parents and their 4 little children stand outside, trembling from cold and fear. The fire trucks spray water through the windows. The fire goes out, but thick clouds of smoke still billow from the windows.
Abba takes the kids to their grandparents, to their aunts and uncles; they are split up. There’s nothing left for them at home. There’s nowhere to sleep. There’s no way to even get close to the stench.
Two parents and 4 children left with nothing. They can’t just go get another sweater from the closet or clean socks from the drawer. It’s all gone.
Later that night, Abba went back to the remains of their home. “The baby leaked through his diaper,” Ima said, “maybe you’ll still find something – a change of clothes, a pair of pajamas.” She hoped that maybe something was left. At least a memento.
He trudged through the soot-covered rooms, searching with a flashlight. Everything was covered in ashes. He found the baby’s clothes – a pile of burnt rags that used to be adorable outfits.
From everything they owned, just a pile of ashes. They need to start their lives all over again. They need to fill an empty home, all the little things like pens and pencils, brooms and dustpans, pots and pans, plates, bowls, and silverware – and all the big things, like a washing machine and dryer, tables and chairs, refrigerator and stove, and clothes for an entire family.
Rebuilding from Ashes
Someone found them a temporary place to stay, a one-room apartment. They bought a few urgent things from a neighborhood clothing store – socks, a change of clothes, a baby bottle and diapers.
Another day went by. They lit their menorah in their little apartment and tried to think how they’ll manage. They lost their home; where will they live now?In the meanwhile, they’re still in this one-room apartment. They’re survivors from a fire, with little more than the clothes on their backs. They need the generosity of Am Yisrael to rebuild their lives that disappeared in flames. They’ve lost absolutely everything. They have no beds or blankets, no notebooks or schoolbags, no toys or clothes for the children.
Look around. What’s in your home? How much have you accumulated over the years? Think how much it would cost to suddenly replace it all. This family has nothing. They need your help to rebuild their lives.