Bride ZAKA 370.
(photo credit: Azriel Shnitzer)
GENERALLY SPEAKING, ZAKA volunteers are called upon in times of tragedy and
trauma, but this week ZAKA volunteer Berele Yaacovitz of Bnei Brak, who has been
part of ZAKA’s search, rescue and life-saving efforts for more than a decade,
was called for a different kind of emergency. A bride, whose wedding hall was
located next to Kiryat Vishnitz, was getting married on the day of the funeral
of Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager, the Vishnitzer Rebbe. With the thousands of
people who thronged the streets blocking her way, it was almost impossible for
her to get to the wedding hall on time.
Thinking outside the box, the
bride called the ZAKA hotline and explained her predicament. Within minutes,
ZAKA had dispatched an ambulance to her door to drive her through the crowd.
“This is the first time that I’ve been involved in a joyous event,” said
Yacovitz, who was thrilled to have performed the mitzva. “It’s a truly emotional
moment for me to see my vehicle, which has seen so much sorrow and tragedy, take
a bride to her wedding.”
■ ECONOMIC CRISES notwithstanding, when Israel
is under physical attack, Jews around the world open their hearts and their
check books. That’s what happened this week at the annual national gala dinner
in New York the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. The event happened to
coincide with the massive rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel’s southern
The situation was brought closer to home by a satellite
broadcast from a targeted area in the south in which Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen.
Benny Gantz told more than 1,300 prominent business and philanthropic leaders,
who had come from across America to the Waldorf Astoria hotel, about what was
happening on the ground.
“The Iron Dome and active defense systems that
we have now are a serious and historical milestone. I think we did right and we
will do it in the future as well,” he declared.
Gantz also mentioned that
the IDF had hunted down 22 terrorists in the Gaza Strip over the previous three
days. Thanking the attendees for their partnership with the IDF soldiers, Gantz
said: “This is very important for us to know that we are not alone.” Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who also spoke to the crowd via satellite,
expressed his appreciation for the great work of both Israel’s soldiers and
their supporters in the US. “The Jewish state has the capacity to resist
attacks. The Israeli Army is the guarantor of our future. Thank you for standing
by us,” he said.
One of the highlights of the evening was a video
presentation in which Gilad Schalit thanked American Jewry for supporting the
effort to have him released from Hamas captivity.
Among the guests who
attended were the inimitable Dr. Ruth Westheimer, FIDF National Director Maj.
Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak “Jerry” Gershon; FIDF National Chairman Nily Falic; FIDF
Chairman Emeritus Arthur Stark; Israel Defense and Armed Forces Attaché to the
US and Canada Maj.-Gen.
Gadi Shamni; Founder and president of the
International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein;
and Israeli-American luxury fashion designer Elie Tahari. Benny Shabtai chaired
the dinner for the 15th consecutive year, and author and nationally-syndicated
radio host Dr.
Monica Crowley once again served as the evening’s
Funds contributed were in excess of $25 million! This money will go
towards higher-education scholarships for former combat soldiers, financial
support for soldiers in need, and for Lone Soldiers from around the world. Funds
raised by FIDF are also used for R&R for entire military units, as well as
for educational, cultural and recreational facilities in army bases.
RUNNING TO the top of the circular Azrieli Tower in Tel Aviv used to be the
great challenge for stair racers in Israel. But now the 187-meter high 49-floor
structure with its 1,144 stairs is considered small potatoes compared to
252-meter high, 78-floor Moshe Aviv Tower in the Ramat Gan diamond district. The
Moshe Aviv Tower poses a far greater challenge, not only because of its
additional height, but because it has two flights of stairs with 1,459 stairs on
each leading to the top of the building.
Nadav Ben-Yehuda, 23, decided
that competing in last Friday’s stair race in the Moshe Aviv Tower was good
practice for his projected climb of Mount Everest, and proved just how
extraordinarily fit he was by running up the staircase 13 times, thereby
breaking the previous Israeli record of 9,152 stairs. Competing with Ben-Yehuda
were prospective army rookies who have been assigned to combat units, and
athletes from the Zeus Club. Impressed by Ben-Yehuda’s prowess, philanthropists
Leonid and Olesya Nevzlin decided to sponsor Ben- Yehuda’s trek to Mount
Everest. Aside from anything else, the young winner’s first name must have
struck a chord, in that Nevzlin is the founder of the Nadav Foundation which
engages in various philanthropic enterprises.
If Ben-Yehuda succeeds in
his ambition to reach the top of Mount Everest, which is 8,850 meters high, he
will be the youngest Israeli to do so – but not the youngest person.
honor belongs to Temba Tsheri, a Sherpa from Nepal, who started his climb at age
15 but celebrated his 16th birthday by the time he reached the peak in 2001.
Still, Ben-Yehuda can claim to be the champion stair racer of Israel’s tallest