Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Building-Blocks Made of Kindness

Yom revi'i, 7 Av 5775.

This Tisha b'Av, it will be ten years since Gush Katif. I still remember the spiritual-high hopefulness followed by the excruciating, sucking-chest-wound pain when we heard that the Jewish communities of Gush Katif would not get a stay of execution after all. It took the breath out of us -- and we didn't even live in Israel yet.

One of the many, many reasons I as an Israeli love my former kehilla back in the Old Country is that they, lead by their Rav and Rebbetzin Menachem and Bracha Goldberger, have never given up on Israel, on the dream for as many of us as possible to make aliyah, and on supporting us emotionally and spiritually here at HOME. Now they are doing what they can (as they have many times in the past) to help out financially as well.

Thank you, Holy Kehilla. Thank you, dear Rabbi and Rebbetzin. In the merit of these kindnesses, may this at last be the year of the Geula shelaima.

Dear Kehilla Hakedosha,
This Tisha B’Av marks the 10th anniversary of the expulsion from Gush Katif.   
For years, the residents of Gush Katif were known for their generosity to the poor of Israel and their extraordinary productivity.  A self-contained bloc of settlements, they were responsible for 15% of the entire country’s agricultural exports. Fully 97% were employed.  The day after the expulsion 85% were instantaneously unemployed.
Sadly, while there was a plan for removing them from their homes, there was no plan for the day after. Overnight, these productive individuals had no jobs and no businesses. Depression, trauma and other emotional, psychological and even health issues ensued.
JobKatif was founded by Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon to help the evacuees become independent, self-supporting individuals once again. To date, JobKatif has helped 2,650 people re-enter the work force.
A worldwide Achdut campaign is now underway to assist many of the remaining unemployed Gush Katif evacuees re-enter the work force.    
While we cannot solve the injustice that was committed to these people, nor right the wrongs of the past, we can unite together during the Three Weeks.
Our shul, along with many others, is trying to take responsibility for just one Gush Katif evacuee. By doing so we can help repair one of the most the painful chapters in modern Jewish history. 
A total of $2,200 will help ensure that a single Gush Katif evacuee currently unemployed can once again enjoy independence, self-pride and dignity.  There remain 330 who still need our help.
This is an historic moment for Klal Yisrael.  Before Tisha B'Av, when we petition Hashem for rachamim for ourselves in the face of imminent danger to Israel's existence, it is imperative that we demonstrate our care and concern for each person from Gush Katif.  We cannot be callous to their pain any longer.  Let us pray that the dignity we pledge to accord them will be a zechut for us all in these perilous times.  
Please take a few moments to listen to Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon.
We would appreciate whatever you can to do help.  You can send your donation with "Job Katif" in the memo line to Shomrei Emunah Israel Fund, 6221 Greenspring Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21209. Mention that the donation came from Congregation Tiferes Yisroel.

If you will be traveling in America for some reason and need a warm and welcoming kehilla in Baltimore, may I recommend Congregation Tiferes Yisroel? The Rabbi and Rebbetzin and the entire kehilla never heard of judging a Jew by his or her head covering, or lack thereof. They understand better than any people I know the sentiments expressed by Rabbi Refael Rubin of Netanya. (This brief video is well worth the less than five minutes of your time. Let me know what you think -- and feel free to share!)

And what are we capable of building with our building-blocks of kindness? May we finally get our act together so that we can share joyful news of the Complete and Total Redemption, speedily and in our days!