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“B’ezri didn’t wait-they sent help right away”

A Gabbai Tzedaka reflects on some of the events of October 7 and B’ezri’s impact

by KR

0 Comments | Wednesday, January 03, 2024 under Volunteering, Stand With Israel

At B’ezri we’ve always been grateful for the reliable relationships we have with our Gabbei Tzedaka. They work tirelessly and devotedly, volunteering with care and compassion to assist us in coordinating our programs that get families in cities throughout Israel the aid they need. They are one of the elements that make us among the most effective Israeli charities, committed to combatting poverty. 

I was recently speaking to Asher, one of those gabbaim. He lives and works in the southern city of Ofakim and knows the families in the city well, always ready to help them in any way he can. So when the October 7 terror attacks struck, Asher was right there. I asked him to share a bit about his experiences on that tragic day. Here are some of his recollections of the fear and the horrors. But he also shares a bit about how B’ezri made a real difference in a surreal situation.  

“We’re coming up on three months of this war, and unfortunately we’re still trying to get used to our situation and all that has been happening. I’ve been thinking about what has helped us, the residents of Ofakim, get through this incredibly difficult time. On the morning of Simchas Torah, we woke up (like the rest of the country) to sirens. As they continued to wail every few minutes, we ran to the bomb shelters.

These sirens were different

As residents of the south we are not strangers to sirens - but this time we knew something was different. Rumors began flowing in throughout the day. As we are shomrei mitzvot, we weren’t tuned into the news, we didn’t know exactly what was happening and weren’t completely updated. There were just rumors. But by the afternoon hours we understood that what was going on was extremely serious. By then IDF soldiers and security forces were going from house to house, instructing families to lock themselves in, and to close all the windows.

Indescribable fear

The fear that ran through every home…it was horrible, indescribable. Throughout Yom Tov, 48 Jews were murdered in Ofakim including the old and the young, הי”ד. Tens of terrorists had stormed through the city, carrying out their massacres. Thank G-d the deaths stopped at 48. But it was forty eight too many… 

For 24 hours five terrorists had shut themselves up in a house and took people hostage until the terrorists were eliminated, thank G-d. The situation was so extreme, so frightening that children were afraid of everything, even inside their homes. They couldn’t go to the bathroom, take a shower, or do anything alone-even much older children. Every few hours we would get a message that terrorists were roaming through the city.

Many families began sleeping in one room - their bomb shelter. And that continued for at least the following month. There is no pen in the world that can write about the immeasurable terror and fear we experienced. Every little sound caused us to think and then scream, “terrorist!”. 

Help arrives

We are so grateful for the army and the security forces (some of whom gave their lives!) for bringing safety back to the city after a while. Of course, their help was invaluable-literally, life saving.
And I want to tell you about another source of help. It came so quickly and was so effective. It was from B’ezri- mere hours after things began to calm down a bit. They didn’t wait for anything, they provided it right away-even at irregular hours, even in the middle of the night.

B'ezri “poured” (yes, I’m choosing to use that word, it’s not an exaggeration) this aid into our community: games, candy, art projects, books, toys for our children. It was an indescribable amount. And it arrived smoothly, in an uncomplicated way: without long forms to fill out, without red tape, without us having to provide explanations.

A unique kind of emotional therapy

I have to say, I think the best psychological care could not have accomplished what B’ezri did, with these initial deliveries (there were many more to come, later). Families were so anxious, so stressed and nervous, but because of this help, in an instant, the children forgot about the anxiety around them. They were busy and occupied day after day making projects, reading books, playing, and getting treated to fun snacks. It was a form of ‘emotional therapy’ and there are no words that can describe how effective it was, how good it was for them. And when aid like this relieves stress for children, it relieves it for their parents, too.

B’ezri was at our side right at the start and is still there for us, three months into the war. There’s just no way to express our full appreciation and thanks. We are talking about over 1000 families who truly benefited in a therapeutic way because of this help.”


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