Sunday, January 11, 2009
January 11, 2009. Day 16 of the War in the South
Bet Shemesh, Israel.
Our Guest Ariel...
Today I met with Ariel Yered. He's nine years old this week. He was sitting in a class of enthusiastic kids from Shomria, now relocated to the Ramat Bet Shemesh Community Center. He's a small blonde kid, frail looking, with glasses. There's a teacher at the front of the class, and another teacher with Ariel, sitting by his side.
The international media barely mentions that Hamas has been firing mortars, rockets and missiles at Israeli civilians for "eight years". That eight year barrage started with Ariel.
On April 3rd, 2001: Ariel - then a 15-month-old baby boy - was severely wounded in his head and spinal column from the shrapnel of a 3 inch mortar shell that, without warning, landed and exploded at his side outside his home in Atzmona. By a miracle, that shell missed a pile of inflammable gas-containers by just 5 meters (Ariel was half a meter from the gas!)
Ariel lay in critical condition for weeks, while thousands prayed for his life. Innovative operations were performed, including removing a portion of his skull and replacing it with a special helmet; the doctors returned the bone two and half years later. Ariel's condition improved with time, dramatically.
On August 15th 2005, Ariel was forcibly evacuated with his family from his home, along with 600 neighbors in Atzmona, and 8000 other residents of Gush Katif, as part of the Israeli Government's disengagement plan. He spent half a year in "City of Faith", a makeshift refugee camp, near Netivot, until they moved to temporary prefabricated homes "Caravillas" in Shomreia.
Lema'an Achai was there for the Yered family and helped them to establish a kindergarten in the "City of Faith" - they are grateful to this day.
This week, Ariel Yered was again within range of "Grad" missiles from Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Ironically, many of the missiles are being launched from the ruins of Gush Katif, including his old home village of Atzmona. Like most ex-Gush Katif residents, Ariel Yered's temporary flimsy house has no protected room, and no bomb shelter within sprinting distance. His school was closed down by the Home Front Command; the school therefore accepted Bet Shemesh's offer to host them - the whole school.
Ariel's school is just one of many schools and yeshivot which have relocated from the rockets and missiles in the south, to Bet Shemesh. (located 45km from Gaza - just beyond the 40km range of Hamas missiles!)
When I saw him today, courageous, young Ariel, who has experienced more horror than any human should, was all smiles, and asked me to thank everyone who has helped bring him and his classmates out of the line-of-fire, to take refuge with us here in Bet Shemesh, with Lema'an Achai.
"Many many thanks" - from Ariel.
(Thanks also to Ariel's father Yossi Yered for explaining the details of this story to me.)
WHAT LEMA'AN ACHAI IS DOING FOR THE SOUTH
Lema'an Achai is spearheading the Bet Shemesh War Relief Program, in alliance with the Municipality, the community centers, schools, many charities and an 'army' of amazing volunteers.
KIDS: As it is during the school year, and all schools and yeshivas have now been closed down in the south by law, there is a big demand for school groups to relocate in Bet Shemesh. Groups have arrived from Ashdod, Kireat Gat, Sderot, Shomreiya, Netivot, and others...
Around a thousand kids!
These groups have come by organized buses, complete with teaching staff, and are being housed in various Bet Shemesh community centers and schools. They arrive each morning, and go home after school hours. More are due to come.
When I compare it with the the refugee-camp environment of our relief programs for the Northerners in 2006, the overwhelming feeling is that everything here is 'under control' with these kids. They are good kids, well cared for by their regular teachers and staff.
Their needs today are for catered food (they bring sandwiches from home, but need this supplemented for a long day), for activities/games during the breaks, and for recreational outings.
FAMILIES: At this point, families are moving from the South to Bet Shemesh in a sporadic fashion (this contrasts with the organized groups of families who came down from the North to Bet Shemesh in the last war).
These families are being matched up with host families by the Bet Shemesh Municipality and by Ezrat Achim. As of today, the supply and demand is balanced (actually more willing hosts than families).
Some hosts would find it helpful to have extra food - so we are looking to establish cooked food collection points for host families (we did this last time very effectively). We are also looking at setting up family-to-family hostings for shabbat/weekend - a major community wide project - if there is enough demand for this.
STUFF FOR THE SOUTH: Bet Shemesh Community Centers are continuing to collect useful items to deliver to the South. Toys, books, heaters, blankets, are all welcome.
FUTURE: Nobody knows how long this war will last, nor the nature of the imminent needs of our brothers and sisters just a few minutes drive south of us. Or even if we, ourselves, may require help; as just an extra half-liter of rocket fuel would put Bet Shemesh in range.
We are prepared and preparing for all contingencies.
Please donate today www.IsraelWar.org , and encourage your relatives, friends and communities to do the same - because we are able to keep 9 year old hero, Ariel Yered, and another thousand school children, safely out of missile range, ONLY because of our generous donors.
We ask that you also spare a moment, to pray for the successful mission, and the safe return, of all our brave soldiers.
Besorot tovot - we should hear only good news!
More Ways to Donate:
USA Tax Deductible: "US Friends of Lema'an Achai", PO Box 532, Oceanside, NY 11572-0532, USA.
UK Tax Deductible: "British Friends of Lema'an Achai", c/o Nava Kestenbaum, 96 Rigby Street, Salford, Manchester, M7 4BQ, ENGLAND.
Canadian Tax Deductible: "Shaarei Tefilla Charity Fund", C/O Murray Shore, 31 Marwill Street, Toronto, Ontario, M3H 3L2, CANADA.
Israel Tax Deductible: "Lema'an Achai", The Lema'an Achai Center, 40/7 Nahal Lachish, Ramat Bet Shemesh, 99093, Israel.
By Phone 24/6 Donations Hotline (Hebrew): 02 99.999.33
To Volunteer Locally: Hotline Ezrat Achim: 02 9999822
Bet Shemesh Municipal Hotline: (Ms Shula Erev): 02 9909845
In the happy event that the war finishes, and any funds remain, they will solely be used for helping families in desperate need.
David Morris, Chairman
Rabbi Avrohom Leventhal, Executive Director
Lema'an Achai - It's All About Caring
Direct Tel: +972 2 9997107
Office: +972 2 9991553
Fax: +972 2 9992398
40/7 Nahal Lachish
Ramat Beit Shemesh,
Please pray for the injured soldiers!
YAAKOV YISRAEL BEN YARDENA - Shrapnel from bomb went through his neck.
HOSHEA BEN MIRIAM - serious
DVIR BEN LEAH - serious
RAFI BEN DINA - serious
NOAM BEN ALIZA - one leg amputated, doctors fighting to save the second
LI'EL HOSHEA BEN MIRIAM - serious head injury
NERIYA BEN RIVKA - serious head injury
YITZCHAK BEN NAVA - moderate shoulder injury
NETANEL BEN NAVA - moderate shrapnel wounds
"Ma'ayin yavo ezri - Ezri ma'im Hashem"