Congregation B’nai Tzedek of Potomac has donated a portable bomb shelter for residents of Halutza, a community in the western Negev bordering Gaza. Members have just returned from a trip where the shelter was dedicated. The fundraising project was announced on Rosh Hashanah, and on Yom Kippur members were given the chance to make a pledge. Within days of the request being made, enough funds were raised to purchase the shelter. The donation was made through the Jewish National Fund, which has partnered with the government of Israel to provide shelters for residents bordering Gaza.
Eleven people traveled to Israel, where they visited areas affected by the summer’s war. They went to Soroka Hospital in Beersheva and met with members of the medical staff who worked around the clock to save lives. The group also traveled to Sderot and visited the Conservative synagogue and nursery school in Ashkelon, where they learned how the rockets affected the children and other residents. While in Halutza, a new community, individuals painted a communal bomb shelter and performed volunteer work in a greenhouse.
Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt explained in press release how the mission and donation came about: “In August, a few congregants approached me and expressed their concern and frustration over what they were seeing on the news about Operation Protective Edge. They wanted to do something to show support and solidarity, and suggested we try to organize a trip to do just that. I was amazed that people responded so quickly and generously and contributed to this worthwhile effort. While we were there, we were told on more than one occasion how much our visit meant to them and how appreciative they were of our visit. At a time when Israel feels under attack on the battlefield and by efforts to isolate her, it is especially important to stand with our brothers and sisters to let them know we are with them.”