Despite the war having resumed, I feel the need to post another Good News Friday installment after missing a couple recently.
I was going to post about all the wonderful organizations that have been providing aid, food, treats, hospitality and more to the soldiers, residents of the south, and to the families of reservists called up to serve – but they are simply too numerous to mention. Luckily I found an article in the Times of Israel about “some tales to warm the heart”:
Meet Lt. Eitan, hero
Israelis held their collective breath last week after learning that an Israeli soldier was believed to have been taken captive through one of the tunnels leading from Gaza to Israel.
Lt. Hadar Goldin was later declared dead, based on several factors. One consideration included the partial remains that had been snatched from the kidnappers by a soldier identified as 2nd Lt. Eitan.
At risk to his life and well aware it was against protocol, Eitan chased the kidnappers through the Gaza tunnel that his Givati Brigade company was in the process of destroying when confronted by the terrorists.
Words cannot describe the awe I feel at Lt. Eitan’s courage and loyalty. The mitzva he performed is one of true lovingkindness, חסד של אמת, that cannot be repaid. Kol hakavod is inadequate.
Personal thanks from soldiers
Israeli children sent thousands of letters to soldiers serving in and around Gaza to raise their spirits.
The soldiers serving in Gaza could not call home from the combat zone, but even when they could leave the area and make a call, they often found their cellphone batteries were dead with no way to recharge them.
Tzohar, a religious Zionist rabbinical organization in Israel, purchased the stock of 4,000 cellphone stick chargers from the one Israeli company that provides them already fully charged and sent them to the frontlines last Friday. It allowed the soldiers to call home before the Sabbath and alleviate the anxiety of their families.
Supporting the South, feeding the needy
Leket Israel — The National Food Bank purchased hundreds of thousands of shekels worth of food products from vendors in southern Israel hard hit by the conflict and delivered the goods to people living in communities surrounding Gaza.
While providing the needy with basic necessities, the organization was supporting businesses in the South that have been slammed financially by the barrage of rockets fired on their communities in recent weeks.
Leket Israel, also the country’s largest food-rescue organization, bought the goods from vendors in Sderot, Ofakim, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Nitzan and Netivot, some of the areas hit hardest by the conflict.
The kindness of strangers
Israelis love their soldiers, especially during conflict. During Operation Protective Edge, Israelis went above and beyond in sending food, goodies and toiletries to the soldiers at the front — even socks and underwear! The public also sent thousands of pizzas and bottles of soda.
Communities, municipalities and volunteer committees delivered challahs or flowers or cakes to the thousands of families who had a father or son called up for the war effort.
In fact, so much stuff was sent that the Israel Defense Forces called on the public to stop, saying it “could interfere with operational alertness or the fighters’ health.” The donations were directed to the Association for the Well-being of Israel’s Soldiers, known as the Libi Fund.
Read the whole beautiful article.
Another lovely article about the home front: Angels of the home front
A surprising development has emerged from this war: hundreds of Ultra-Orthodox men are seeking to volunteer for the IDF:
An unusual advertisement appeared on a number of ultra-Orthodox websites at the end of last week. “A group of Yeshiva students is organizing to volunteer with the reserves. Want to join?” it read.
“We believe that the people of Israel are in the midst of an obligatory war against ruthless enemies who seek to annihilate us,” the ad continued, using biblical language for a battle that all Jews are obligated to fight.
“We believe it is a great privilege to join the military effort, in addition to our important contribution through Torah study. We too yearn for this precious mitzvah.”
Yossef, a 40-year-old father of six from Jerusalem who serves as the initiative’s publicity coordinator, told The Times of Israel that the online campaign has garnered 500 volunteers since the ad went online Friday, with new people stepping forward every day.
He estimated that a total of 1,500-2,000 will end up signing on for two possible tracks: a combat track for younger, unmarried men to be trained with new immigrants and to join existing fighting units; and a shorter track for older volunteers, comprising multiple-day basic training followed by a commitment to volunteer in the reserves 12 days a year for five years.
He said senior officers within the military have expressed excitement about the idea. A request to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit for comment was not answered.
I think this is a wonderful development, great for the Orthodox community, a boon for the IDF and fantastic for Israeli society as a whole. Long may it continue and grow.
In a related development, many Rabbis have cancelled the yeshiva summer holidays, saying that their learning is as important as the soldiers’ fighting. Again, the identification with the mainstream of Israeli society is a very heart-warming and encouraging phenomenon.
A little bit of archeology for Shabbat: A Treasure trove of Jewish revolt coins was discovered near Jerusalem, once again proving the Jewish people’s millenia-old connection to Israel and Jerusalem:
A hoard of coins from the fourth year of the Jewish Revolt against Rome — minted months before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE — was found outside the capital and announced by the Israel Antiquities Authority on Tuesday to coincide with the Ninth of Av, the date commemorating the destruction of the Second Temple.
The trove, which consists of 114 bronze coins, was unearthed during the expansion of Route 1, the major highway connecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, in February. In the past several months, the IAA team led by Judea District chief archaeologist Pablo Betzer has excavated the remains of a small Roman-era Jewish village near the modern town of Abu Ghosh. Amid the ruins was a broken juglet containing the verdigris-coated coins.
The coins are all of identical size and age, and possibly from the same mint. Their value has yet to be determined, but they are likely quarter or one-eighth shekel bits, Betzer said. They are all marked with the words “For the redemption of Zion” and “Year four,” indicating they were made during the fourth year of the revolt against the Roman Empire, or between spring 69 and spring 70 CE. They are decorated with the Biblical four species — palm, myrtle, citron and willow — and a vessel that may symbolize those used in the temple. The coins are still encrusted in nearly 2,000-year-old dirt and oxidation, and await cleaning and study by IAA specialists.
Moving back to today, an anti-Israel protest in New York was overwhelmed by outraged pro-Israel counter-protestors. Don’t mess with the Diamond District!
And to conclude this week’s post, I give you… Fun with Hamas!
Hamas produced a song and video clip with scary words intended to demoralize Israelis. However their bad Hebrew, atrocious accents and the catchy bouncy tune have instead turned into Israel’s summer hit, with spoofs and parodies galore. Some of them are utterly hilarious! See the link for the Lion King version, the Smurfs version, an A Capella version and more. 😀
Someone reproduced the song but with an Israeli band miming and mimicking and generally mucking about.:-)
Another enterprising Israeli took the song and with a slight adjustment produced a fantastic Chassidic wedding hit!
The best news of all of this is that it’s probably driving Hamas insane to have all their hard work parodied by fun-living Israelis. But you have to give Hamas credit for their musical ability if nothing else.
Put your dancing shoes on and have some fun with Hamas. 🙂
Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom, a quiet, safe and peaceful Shabbat for all of us.