Today we have seen images that should no person should have to see. There is seemingly no escape from the inhumanity of murdering, hostage taking, maiming, raping and caging innocent people.
Yet at the same time there is so much humanity. So amidst the absolute horror of the past two days, I would like to share some of the compassionate, selfless, and heartwarming acts that have occurred as a response to what is a new paradigm for our community in the space of just two days.
The Perth Jewish community has rallied. On Monday night several hundred people gathered in solidarity sharing songs, stories and a live link to a global broadcast. There was an overwhelming sense of unity which was shared all the way to Israel.
There is a famous Israeli song by Uzi Fuchs called “You have nothing to worry about” which is about a soldier called for army service. In it he says to his girlfriend “Send me underwear and t-shirts. Sweety, don’t send me cake”. The song has come to life for Jewish Perth. A group of young informal educators, affectionately known as “the tzevet” are hosted by our community each year. The new intake only recently arrived, however three of the reservists have been called for army service and will be leaving tonight. Within the space of a few hours the community has collected suitcases full of socks and underwear, coffee and supplies, and letters for soldiers to take back with them
Concurrent to the donation of supplies, the community has raised more than $15,000 in a single day to support the return of these soldiers to the frontline.
Some of the Bnei Akiva Limmud and MTA (Israel gap year) participants from Perth are joining a wedding celebration in Jerusalem tonight to help provide celebration and dancing. There were 200 guests that were supposed to have arrived from the USA that can no longer attend. One of the program participants met the couple over Shabbat and offered to replace the missing guests.
As I publicly identify as Jewish I have been randomly stopped in the street by strangers today on several occasions, expressing prayers and well wishes for the people of Israel and to express their horror at what they have seen.
I am also fortunate to have wonderful work colleagues who have been caring and empathetic and offered a lot of emotional support. I have had at least half a dozen former colleagues contact me to share their sympathy and outrage at what they have seen.
A number of people have been asking how to donate to Israel. One person posted a thread on facebook which was populated with more than 50 online links within an hour of how to deposit funds. Many of the charitable operations are not corporate bodies, but many individuals who are simply distributing funds in real time where they are needed the most. All the charities are important. Having grass roots support that in today’s world can instantly receive and disburse funds is a new level of practical assistance.
Another example from a former Perth resident and Carmel School graduate now living in Israel: “People have come together in cities all over the country to buy, pack and deliver care boxes of supplies for our soldiers and for the families affected along the Gaza border. I experienced it first hand today and these incredible scenes need to be shared! I would like to make a heartfelt appeal to anyone who can donate, for those who are feeling helpless and at a loss of what can be done during this time. Whether big or small, your financial support right now makes the world of difference and goes directly towards the front line of those fighting for our Jewish nation. If you’re interested in making a direct impact, I have been buying supplies on behalf of others already over the last 24 hours and will happily continue to do so for anyone who would like to make a donation. You can PM me the details of your contribution, transfer to my Australian bank account and I’ll deliver the supplies to the local collection & packing sites.”
I have a tzeva adom alert system on my phone which is widely used in Israel. Every time there is a missile launched it flashes real time with the trajectory of the destination. As thousands of missiles have been fired it has been a relentless stream, so I have now disabled the volume. In the night I saw that a missile was heading towards a small town where I have a close friend. I sent a quick message to say I had seen the alert, and just wanted to let them know we have their situation and well being in mind. A few minutes later I received a response from the mother with her two kids (husband on the front line), sitting in their bomb shelter to say just how much that small message meant to those in their building at that moment.
A caller to talkback radio called to compliment his Ukranian Jewish neighbours and express his outrage of the open anti-semitism seen on the streets of Sydney. Lots of similar calls were made. It is heartwarming to know that so many Australians call out this unacceptable behaviour and express their support for a diverse and peaceful Australia, and support for Israel.
It is so easy to be despondent when torn up by the scenes in Israel. But locally and across the world there is enough decency and moral clarity to maintain faith and hope. This will be sorely needed while Israel undertakes the difficult but necessary task of eliminating the terrorist regime of Hamas and from there rebuilding a new generation of coexistence that is free of fear and existential rejection.
All of the above, and many similar examples need to be our focus. Small gestures of support and compassion make a big difference. Because of this I am proud to be a Zionist. I am proud to be a Jew. I am proud to be an Australian.