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ICEJ Impacting Southern Israel

A first-hand account

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9 Jul 2019 (All day)
ICEJ Impacting Southern Israel

While in Israel for ICEJ leadership meetings in May, I had the privilege of joining Rabbi Shmuel Bowman and other ICEJ national directors for a visit to Israeli communities in southern Israel along the front lines of the battle with terror militias in nearby Gaza. After the ongoing arson and rocket attacks on these Israeli towns and villages, the people were extremely grateful for our visit and show of support.

During the visit I was able to see ICEJ-donated bomb shelters as well as firefighting equipment that had been used just the day before. It was moving to speak to the people and hear their appreciation for the help the ICEJ has provided.

In the town of Ofakim, we visited the Tennis Center where two ICEJ bomb shelters had been placed. Ofakim is one of Israel’s most impoverished cities with an unemployment rate close to 25 percent, so many of the children of Ofakim come from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds. I was impressed by the Tennis Center and the after-school tennis program that teach these at-risk children life skills such as discipline, hard work, honesty, ethics, and teamwork. The center also keeps the children off the streets and offers them after-school counseling and tutoring to improve their academic performance and “ensure that they grow up to become winners on and off the court.”
I learned the Tennis Center is a highly effective social program that would not exist were it not for the ICEJ bomb shelters. The security chiefs for the area would have shut it down, because the children were too susceptible to harm in the case of a rocket attack. The double bomb shelters we donated sit right beside the tennis courts so the children can reach safety within a few seconds.

After lunch at Kibbutz Sa’ad, where the ICEJ has placed several shelters, we traveled to a nearby wheat field that had just been set on fire the day before by an incendiary balloon flown from Gaza. An ATV with the ICEJ donor plaque on the front had battled to put out that fire. We stood in the middle of the charred field with Rafi Babian, the security chief of the Sadot Negev Regional Council. He asked if we could pray together and then led us in prayer in Hebrew for peace and for their attackers to “receive wise advice” and choose another course in life. What a beautiful way to pray for one’s enemy!

I was deeply impacted to be able to meet these wonderful people for whom we have been praying and raising donations for their security.

— by Susan Michael, ICEJ US Director

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