Idealism amid a slow-motion Katrina

As part of its ongoing efforts to boost awareness of the crisis facing the people of Sderot and other towns on the Gaza perimeter, UJC and its partners JAFI and JDC recently brought editors from American Jewish newspapers to the region, where the journalists stayed with local families, took shelter during kassam strikes, and examined the programs that funding from North American Jewry sustains.

We'll post links to the coverage here so you can see what perspectives these journalists brought home with them.

Today's serving is from Andrew Silow-Carroll. editor-in-chief of the New Jersey Jewish News.

In his column "Think Spiritually, Act Strategically," Andrew writes of his surprise about many aspects of life on the Gaza perimeter --

A display of student-decorated Kassams in a Sapir College lobby. Credit: Jonathan Levine/UJC

* that no matter how much he had read about the situation, the reality is worse ("The crisis in Sderot is a slow-motion Katrina, playing out over seven years and thousands of missiles").

* that post-traumatic therapy for the residents during the ongoing trauma can be as endless as bailing out the ocean ("Therapists and patient can run for shelter three times in a session.")

* That even the citizens and soldiers on the ground in the area are unsure about whether there is a viable military solution.

* And finally, that despite all of this, "there is life in Sderot, and the next surprise was the deep wells of resilience being tapped by the residents I met."

A second column, "They also serve...", warms the hearts of those who are nostalgic for the idealism of the early kibbutzim and despair that Israeli youths have been uncommonly adept at embracing the materialistic 'McWorld'.

Andrew profiles the residents of a Sderot-area Ayalim youth village. Ayalim, funded by the Jewish Agency and the federations, provides scholarships and housing to students, who in return help build the villages and perform social services in their region. As many as 5,000 students competed for 300 Ayalim openings.

Andrew urges the U.S. to expand AmeriCorps and other programs that employ and encourage our own young idealists.