Kassam strike during a UJC/Federation mission to Sderot

The first two questions were easy to answer. If someone was hurt, we would be called right away. “No news is good news,” said Nachman Shai. When the Twito brothers were critically injured the week before just a short distance from our shelter, the entire city knew right away, he explained. But no one could answer whether there would be more kassams, so we continued our meeting with the uneasy feeling that people in Sderot live with constantly. Even though I thought I was perfectly calm, for several minutes I felt my heart beating faster than usual. Even though nothing had happened, we had lost about twenty minutes. If people lose twenty minutes, 5 or 10 times a day and all night, their lives are totally disrupted. And of course the bigger question of whether there would be more kassams remained.

Two hours later, were were at the Ibim village for new immigrants near Sderot. Last June when I visited the Ibim village, a meeting room with a concrete room was being built so that residents would have a safe place to meet. As we sat in the now-finished meeting room, listening to the story of a brave Sderot woman who had been badly wounded on the second floor of her home a month earlier, the Tzeva Adom sounded again. I immediately jumped to my feet. The Israelis laughed and said,”Relax, you’re in a shelter.” So the shelter that IEC dollars provided was now protecting me.The Sderot resident continued thanking us for the money she had received hours after she was wounded so that she could cover her immediate expenses without worrying about money. I witnessed first hand how the shelter made us able to continue without any real disruption.

The 25,000 people of Sderot courageously continue their daily lives and remain in Sderot to maintain the rights of Israelis to live freely in our country. Our IEC dollars help them maintain some type of normal life. Shelters in senior centers and centers for the disabled allow people to leave their homes and continue their daily lives. Resilence centers help residents prevent and deal with trauma. Thank you again to all who supported the IEC campaign and to those who sustain the UJC work through annual gifts to the Jewish Federation.

- Toni Young