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Working Nonstop to Support Civilians and Soldiers

Saturday, 12 July, 2014 - 5:14 am

Chabad Terror Victims Project offer entertainment for kids, and for troops, care packages and more

Chabad.org Staff   |   July 11, 2014 3:28 PM

Children in Sderot, close to the Gazan border and showered by rocket attacks, clutch activity bags handed out by representatives of the Chabad Victims Terror Project. (Photo: Meir Alfasi)Children in Sderot, close to the Gazan border and showered by rocket attacks, clutch activity bags handed out by representatives of the Chabad Victims Terror Project. (Photo: Meir Alfasi)

Shabbat has fallen in Israel after days and nights of relentless rocket fire from Hamas in Gaza, but up until the last minute beforehand, Chabadrepresentatives throughout Israel were working to bolster civilians and soldiers in Israel.

Over the past several days, those attacks have intensified, sending Israelis into bomb shelters at all hours and causing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare “Operation Protective Edge.” On Thursday, Israel massed troops at the border with Gaza and warned 100,000 Gazans in the area to evacuate immediately.

In synagogues and community centers, Chabad Houses, private homes and on social media—people have been discussing and dedicating themselves to different ways of helping, both spiritually and materially. Along those lines, Jews all around the globe are adding mitzvah observance in merit of the safety of the Jews in the Holy Land. 

As the sages say, in times of trouble, it is important to increase Jewish commitment to prayer and mitzvot.

Over the course of the week, volunteers with the Chabad Terror Victims Project traveled to highly affected areas in the south and north, trying to help in ways they could and staying optimistic about the situation.

“We have been working nonstop,” said Rabbi Yossi Swerdlov, a representative of the Chabad Terror Victims Project, to boost morale and take people’s minds off current stressors.

Earlier this week, CTVP implemented a three-pronged emergency initiative that includes (1) organizing buses to take children to the center of Israel, out of the range of the rockets and able to have a respite from their anxiety; (2) coordinating with all of centers in the region to organize activities and visits to bomb shelters to support families; and (3) keeping up a steady stream of volunteers going to the front lines to boost the morale of the soldiers, as well as give them spiritual and physical nourishment. 

Rabbi Asher Pizem of Chabad of Sderot talks to children stuck inside all day because of the situation. Seated in front of him is Rabbi Prus of Kfar Chabad, Israel, and to Pizem's right, with the orange balloon hat, is CTVP staffer Rabbi Yossi Swerdlov. (Photo: Meir Alfasi)

Following a notification that the center of Israel is no longer considered a safe destination, the decision was made to stop busing children there—and instead, the carnival games and performers were taken south to bring much-needed diversion children near their homes.

So on Thursday, a group of rabbis and CTVP volunteers went to hard-hit Sderot in the south with entertainers for the children, including clowns and balloon makers. They also brought them games and treats, offering them a respite from what’s happening.

Chabad Rabbi Chaim Nochum Cunin, visiting from Chabad West Coast Headquarters in Los Angeles, prays with a soldier. (Photo: Meir Alfasi)

“We do what we can to bring happiness,” said Swerdlov.

Joining Swerdlov and Rabbi Aharon Prus of Tzerei Agudat Chabad Headquarters Israel in Kfar Chabad, Israel, and Rabbi Chaim Nochum Cunin, visiting from Chabad West Coast Headquarters in Los Angeles, were Rabbi Moshe Pizem and his son, Rabbi Asher Pizem, both of Chabad of Sderot, Israel. They all shared in keeping the kids busy.

Working to Boost Morale

The group also went to visit soldiers on the front lines and at bases. They wrapped tefillinwith many of them standing beside tanks and army paraphernalia, and recited prayers for their safety. CTVP representatives also offered soldiers care packages, including food and toiletries, and spent time just talking with the men and reassuring them.

 

The rabbis brought pizzas to Israeli Defence Force reservists with certain dietary restrictions beyond the kosher standards of the army. (Photo: Meir Alfasi)

The rabbis also went out and bought pizzas to a group of reservists who follow special dietary laws above the standard kashrut of the army.

Cunin recounted one particular soldier’s response to the Chabad visitors: “We sit here like it’s [the mournful day of] Tisha B’Av, and then you come along and it’s like [the joyous holiday of] Simchas Torah.”

The rabbis all reiterated what the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—said about the Jewish nation: “Regarding Israel, the Torah states that it is a ‘land upon which G‑d has His eyes at all times.’ ”

Many Chabad communities are holding “lend an arm for Israel” campaigns—urging men and boys to don tefillin, a mitzvah the sages say strikes terror in the heart of her enemies.

 

Cunin wraps tefillin with an Israeli soldier surrounding by tanks and other military equipment. (Photo: Meir Alfasi)

In 1967, prior to the outbreak the Six-Day War, the Rebbe introduced what was to be the first of the 10 “mitzvah campaigns” (“mivtzaim”)—the campaign to don tefillin with all Jews.

Mirroring the Rebbe’s call, Chabad emissaries are redoubling their efforts to encourage their community members to share the mitzvah with people who may not lay tefillin on a daily basis.

And everywhere, women and girls are encouraged to light Shabbat candles.

Chabad.org has offered a list of practical action to assist Israelis, as well as some inspiration from the Rebbe here “What Can I Do to Help Our Brothers and Sisters in Israel?”

 

Swerdlov, left, and Prus aboard tanks to assist soldiers wrapping tefillin. (Photo: Meir Alfasi) 

 Photo Credits: Meir Alfasi

 

 

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