It was so full, so unlike any day I’ve ever known that I scarcely have energy left to write this blog. So I am going to let these pictures speak thousands of words.
Volunteering on a Moshav
A moshav is a farm cooperative. Unlike a kibbutz where everything is owned communally and decisions are voted upon by the members, a moshav is a community of farmers whose houses are near each other. But they own their own fields. They cooperate by buying farm equipment in bulk.
Adi, the farmer, like everywhere else we go, was so delighted to greet us. I rode in the Jeep with him while the other “farmers for a morning” rode out into the field on a flatbed pulled by a tractor.
The farm task we were assigned was weeding a kohlrabi field.
Adi has only 3% of his workers left. Most were from Thailand and fled after October 7th.
We passed hothouses growing eggplants and zucchini. Cabbages and cauliflower were rotting due to a lack of reapers.
We met a few volunteers. One was a surgeon. One woman was a Doctor of Psychiatry and her son was a medical doctor. They come out on Fridays to do something for their country. The woman and her son said that her younger son was fighting in Gaza, and they wanted to do something too.
The terrorist broke through the fence and perpetrated unimaginable horror upon this idyllic setting at 6:30 am on that special Holy Day Shabbat morning. The first house we saw was called Pessy’s house (for the woman who had lived there). Terrorists gathered 20 hostages into it and told them to call the police. When help came, they shot the kibbutz police and soldiers who arrived, then killed the hostages.
The young man who guided my bus held up in his safe room with his wife and children, 11 and 9, from 6:30 am until midnight—without food, water, or a bathroom.
The wife’s brother was fighting when he received a call from their parents that the terrorists were in their front yard. Still on the phone, they said, “The terrorists are in the house.” Still on the phone, his mother (mother-in-law to our guide) said her husband had been shot. And then she had been shot. Her fighting son urged them to hold on. She said, “This is good-bye. Tell everyone I love them.” And then the 69-year-old grandparents to his children were gone.
He said his children spent as much or more time at their grandparents as they did at home. Scattered about were children’s books, toys, dining room chairs, pots and pans, signs of life.
The bus Shelli leads had another young resident leading them through. He took them inside some of the homes where she saw a dishwasher loaded. And into the kindergarten.
Again, I will let the pictures speak.
Loud booms, artillery, missiles sounded throughout the 2½ hours we were there.
They all came from Israel’s forces into Gaza which was 4–5 kilometers (about 3 miles) away.
On to Ashdod where were met by citizens who told us it has known the most missiles of any city in the world. They have had 195 hits since October 7. We stood with them in the street and looked up into apartments that had known those hits.
These people are parents of special-needs children. One woman was mother to three autistic children. The man who formed the group is vice-mayor of Ashdod and is running for mayor. He founded the group when his special-needs son, now 27, was a child. His two soldier sons were spokesmen to our group. And I was touched when one called his father “a great man.”
Guy’s Aliyah non-profit organization helped these now many families bonded together for their special-needs children. Many of their houses, built before 1991 laws requiring safe rooms, don’t have safe rooms. They have only 30 seconds to get to a shelter after the siren signaling a “red alert.” This is particularly challenging for these children who don’t want to be evacuated, desiring (needing) their familiar surroundings. His organization provided meals, etc. And so much more.
In Ashdod we experienced what we’d been hearing about. We were on the buses. A very loud siren sounded what they call “a red alert.” You have 30 seconds. Cars pulled to the side of the road. As did we. We were instructed to put our heads down. The iron dome took it out. I regretted covering my head and closing my eyes as we were instructed. Some of our group watched it happen. In a short while, cars moved into traffic. I saw a child get on a playground moving a piece of equipment. And everything appeared to go back to their normal. Part of this city has been evacuated. Part chose to stay.
In Tel Aviv about 4 missiles were taken out by the Iron Dome.
There is so much I could have, even should have, told you. But for one thing, there are no words. And for another, I am sleepy and need to go to bed for another busy day tomorrow.
EVERYWHERE PEOPLE ARE AMAZED WE ARE HERE, AND YOU CAN SEE THEM BEING BLESSED VISIBLY.
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