Amy's trip to Sderot

My blog posts have gotten so boring that I decided that I had to get a guest to write some of the material. As luck would have it, my sister sent me an email this morning about her trip to Sderot last week. My friend Aryeh has made a couple trips and arranged supplies for the people of Sderot but most of that was before we came to Modiin. We haven't gone to Sderot at all and really haven't done much for them besides occasionally buying challot from their bakery. I figured that I'd share this email so people can learn about ways that they can help.

Every week, the women in my yishuv bake cakes to bring to Sderot (that is, the women who know how to bake, do so). Two local coordinators collect 30-40 cakes, and a box of candies from one of the nursery classes. Two or three cars drive down to Sderot to deliver these cakes to the local residents. I know, bringing cakes to the local Sefardim there is something like bringing coals to Newscastle. More on that later.
As can be expected on Friday mornings, the men are the ones who usually drive down to Sderot to deliver the cakes. However, last week, our local coordinator told us that there was only ONE volunteer to go there. I told her I'd be willing to drive down with another woman. I finished cooking Shabbos by 8 am (it's easy to do this when you're unemployed), and Erick volunteered to tie up all the loose ends. I met up with Smadar, a teacher on sabbatical, and we went to pick up the cakes and the candies.
Driving to Sderot is like driving to a foreign country. As you approach Sha'ar HaNegev, you roll down your windows, so you can hear if the siren goes off. We were also told to unbuckle our seat belts, so we can jump out quickly to grab shelter if there is a need. Fifteen seconds is all you have. Check out this link (there may be some inappropriate scenes there).
Smadar has a daughter, Reut, who lives in Netivot, but teaches English in the local religious high school. She asked us to stop there first. It turns out that the teenagers are the most neglected of the local population. The little kids are popular stops, homes that have been hit by rockets are also hit by visitors, and the elderly also get a certain amount of attention. So, we were happy to stop there. We visited with the principal, who told us that we should be careful to address the children's heroism, and avoid making them feel that they were recipients of zedakah.
We then went into the 12th grade English class, and gave them one of the cakes. The teacher had a list of vocabulary words on the board, so after the principal introduced us, I told the kids that I had come to teach them a few words in English which they had de factor taught us, and I wrote the words "heroism", "admiration", etc. on the board. They were delighted.
Then we went into the 7th grade class. The boys started clapping their hands, and we insisted that we should be applauding them, and not the opposite. We spoke a bit about how proud we were to see them, and how all the kids in our neighborhood learn about these heroes - them. We asked them if they would agree to take the candies, so we and the kids who prepared them could feel part of their bravery. They agreed to take them :-)
By the way, the principal told us what heroes these kids are. One of them lost a leg one year ago, much the same way as Osher Twito did two weeks ago. On Saturday night, he went to the hospital to tell the family that there is hope.
Then, we met up with Shlomit Eckstein, the local coordinator. She told us that she always points visitors to the house that took a hit that week. Upon seeing my surprise, she explained that every week there is a hit. We drove over to the house, and started knocking on the doors in the building. The dialogue basically went, "Hi. We are Smadar and Amy from Nof Ayalon, and we just came to show you our thanks for being in Sderot by bringing you a cake." It turned out that many of the families were from the garin torani, which means that they are there for idelogical reasons a priori.
Some people clearly wanted to talk. We sat with them for a while longer, and really learned a lot about what they are going through. One woman said, "Yes, we have a shelter in our house. But, you cannot live in your house all day. You need to go out, shop, play, talk to people. That's the danger!"

As we walked around, we could smell these savory smells of Friday morning cooking. Like I said, bringing cakes to these people felt almost humiliating, until one woman told us that these cakes are the tastiest that she has ever had, because they come from the heart. I think that even a big bag of popcorn with a nice note would be equally as effective.
My key takeaways:
1. In talking to the local residents, we need to impress upon ourselves and them that we are not giving to them because they are poor or needy. Rather, we are trying to share in their very heroic acts in a way with which we feel comfortable. By taking from us, they are actually giving to us.
2. Write letters to the locals, expressing your appreciation and admiration for them. These letters could be in English (maybe even to Reut's class). You can send candies
3. If you can, visit them.


mother in israel said...

Nice story! Amy, I just hope you didn't teach the high school students that "de factor" was an English word, or even a Latin one. :)

Signed, An old friend of Amy's and of the Greenstone family

Anonymous said...

Happy Brithday David Even Yaruka!!!

Can't wait to hear about the incredible party Shira organized for you!

Chairman of RTDG