While Eretz Yisrael is bleeding from the barbaric acts of the October 7th attack, the power of Achdus has risen in response. Vaad Harabbanim fights on all fronts to rescue, support and aid the displaced and all Jews in need. Here lies the great victory of Am Yisrael.
Everyone is suffering directly or indirectly from the war.
War is hard. It’s frightening, and it takes lives. War disrupts routine, displaces people and families, steals sleep from tens of thousands of Jews worried about the soldiers at the front.
Hundreds of businesses are affected, daily life is disrupted, and we daven and cry out to Hashem that He should miraculously destroy our enemies, without harm to any Jews anywhere.
If this period is full of challenges for everyone, what happens in homes whose ordinary life is one long war of survival?
How will a single mother, worn out from her daily struggles, cope now? How will a home of orphans that does not function even in normal times manage now that all the children have no school?
And a father from Kiryat Shmona who is on dialysis, and an orphan kallah from the South, and a family in distress that is now sitting shivah for a son killed in Gaza, who don’t know how to pay for a gravestone with nonexistent funds?
Vaad Harabbanim has been helping the poor and needy for over twenty years already. Supporting and assisting thousands of families in distress from all over Eretz Yisrael. Before the war, during the war, as well as after it. Countless appeals for help are coming in now, much more than the usual stream. Some families are those who need financial assistance during regular times, and the war puts them in an impossible situation.
“Duvid, it’s a siren!” Mother is rushing through the rooms, shouting. The baby is in her arms, as she looks for her nine-year-old. “Duvid!” Duvid! Ribono Shel Olam, where could he be? “Duuuuvid!”
The siren is rising and falling, blaring away. They have twenty seconds left to get down to the bomb shelter.
“Duvid!” She finds him sitting in a corner of the little porch, absorbed in a book. He doesn’t hear anything. She bends over him and shakes his shoulder, the baby on her arm starts crying.
“Siren?” Duvid looks at her with scared eyes and runs down to the bomb shelter. She runs after him as the loud booms accompanying her on the steps of the building shake the walls. “Ribono Shel Olam! What will be with this child?”
“Buy me a new hearing aid!” Duvid begs as they climb back up the stairs to their home, breathing heavily. The little ones are tired. Two are already in pajamas. One heard the siren when he was in the shower and got dressed quickly with a head full of shampoo. Leftovers from supper are on the table, the smell of burnt food wafts from a pot that was on the fire before the siren, and now, in the middle of the regular commotion of evening time that was rudely interrupted by the siren, Duvid wants a new hearing aid.
“It’s dangerous,” he argues. “I don’t hear the sirens!”
Mother sighs. “We will think about what to do.”
What can she do, really? Duvid lost his hearing aid over Sukkos, and they have absolutely no way to start scraping together the thousands of shekels for a new device. On the other hand, the child doesn’t hear anything… Not the rebbe in yeshivah, not his friends and not even the siren. He is afraid to leave home because maybe there will be a siren and he will be out on the street, unprotected. He is tense, fearful, and stressed on a steady basis.
Can you help out with a thousand dollars to put a hearing aid on Duvid’s ears? Maybe you can give a little more, for coats and winter clothes and toys for the bored children that have school intermittently since the war broke out?
Duvid has parents and a functioning home, and still desperately needs our donation. What will Eliyahu do? His wife passed away during the birth of their ninth child. He and his children had to evacuate their home in Sderot, which is right on the Gaza border, without equipping themselves even minimally.
He stood all night with the baby in his arms. The children were sleeping in a room in the hotel to which they were evacuated, relatively calm, but Menachem the eight-month-old baby cried nonstop.
Where is his baby formula? Maybe they forgot it at home? Eliyahu looks through the bags that they so hastily packed. His eyes are burning from exhaustion and all his bones are crying out for rest. He fills up a bottle with tap water and puts it into Menachem’s mouth. The hungry baby promptly spits it out.
“You are right, you are hungry…” Eliyahu almost cries with the baby. He goes down to the hotel lobby, asks the sleepy clerk if there is baby formula in the hotel, or perhaps some baby cereal. The clerk offers him milk, but Menachem doesn’t quiet down.
In the morning he bought baby formula at the grocery store next to the hotel for double the price of what he would have paid back home. It’s not only formula. His children lacked clothes and pajamas, socks and sweaters for the cool evenings, winter shoes and undershirts.
They have been like this for almost a month, a widower with nine young, cranky, bored children. During the daytime he tries to keep them occupied, and at night he stands in line for the washing machine and dryer. Every day they need to wash all the clothes for tomorrow. The Shabbos shoes that he escaped with the night after Simchas Torah are very uncomfortable, and he doesn’t even dream of buying more comfortable shoes.
Sometimes he thinks of going back home, but in Sderot there is no school now, and no preschool or childcare either. Who will cook meals every day at home for the children? How will he watch them from morning until evening and run with the little ones to the bomb shelter?
In the meantime, their landlord called, and asked for the rent. No, he is not willing to forgo the rent because of the war. He has a big mortgage to pay, and he needs the money to keep up the payments.
A friend of Eliyahu turned to Vaad Harabbanim and told them what is happening. He told about an unfortunate widower who is on the edge of collapse and needs immediate help to keep being a father to his orphans. We must give him the strength, buy more clothes for the children and comfortable shoes for him, and food for the baby who never knew his mother. They need us. Let’s shower them with warmth and care and give them what they lack.
Vaad Harabbanim is investing tremendous efforts to assist as many families as possible. Hundreds of stipends have been distributed to families from the areas of southern and northern Eretz Yisrael that are under bombardment, and more and more desperate requests for help are coming in.
Thousands of families fled their homes, minimally equipped. Some were put up in empty apartments. Without furniture, without electric appliances, without mattresses and blankets and pillows and sheets. Others are staying at relatives, who are themselves going under due to the increased burden. Food, electricity, water, living expenses of so many people living in one home add up to more than they can afford.
Rut didn’t leave home. Yair her twelve-year-old suffers from a severe disability. They can’t even go down to the sheltered space. They can’t run with a wheelchair down two flights of stairs to the bomb shelter.
They are the only ones left in their apartment building. There are a lot of sirens, the windows shake, the paint falls off the walls from the blasts, and the children scream hysterically.
“My husband is a fix-it man and now there is no work at all…” Rut almost cries on the phone. “We are almost the only ones in the neighborhood. Yair’s medicine is about to run out, the children are bored and look for food all the time…”
And there are so, so many other families like them, crying out for our help. Refugees who were put up in banquet halls and empty apartments, families who had to stay behind with the sirens, orphaned chasanim and kallos who can barely manage to make a wedding in the best of times – and suddenly the hall canceled on them, the musician left to a different city, and they need to arrange everything all over again…
There are families that know how to ask for help, and there are those who have no idea where to turn. They go on day after day after day in poverty and distress that is almost unimaginable.
The war will end sometime, b’ezras Hashem. But what will it leave behind? How many families could be destroyed on the way, chas v’shalom? How many children could accumulate new traumas and scars of displacement and deprivation, of anxiety and lack of security? How many chasanim and kallos will begin their new lives in suffering and deprivation?
The Jewish people from around the world is mobilizing, is working together to bring back the hostages, to support the soldiers and the families in the Gaza envelope and on the Lebanese border – but let’s not forget the ones whose voices are not being heard.