From left: Rabbi Tuly Weisz, moshav resident Shalom Shwartz and Bridges for Peace head Rebecca Brimmer.
(photo credit: ISRAEL365/BRIDGES FOR PEACE)
Residents of Moshav Mevo Modi’im who were displaced from their homes two weeks ago were treated to an unexpected shopping spree at the Azrieli Mall in Modi’in on Monday evening.
A fire, one of many around Israel on May 23, was large enough to have damaged 794 hectares of land belonging to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund. That same fire simultaneously displaced an entire community of nearly 70 families, destroying more than two-thirds of its houses, melting power lines and water pipes, and scorching the gardens they had planted with their own hands for more than 40 years.
Since then, the Christian philanthropic organization Bridges for Peace and Israel365 have been raising money for the moshav’s residents. On Monday, they provided 225 individuals with NIS 500 to use for whatever they needed at the mall.
The money was only part of the collective $100,000 raised by the organizations.
“As soon as we heard about the fire, we reached out to our [Christian] community to help,” said Rabbi Tuly Weisz, whose organization works to build bridges between Jews in Israel and Evangelical Christians. In 2016, Bridges and Israel365 came together to provide Haifa families, who had lost everything in a series of wildfires and arson attacks, with the same shopping experience.
Weisz said that although there has been an outpouring of donations for moshav families, “one size does not always fit all and people need to choose their own things.”
Bridges and Israel365 took the families to dinner and then allowed them to take their time in the mall. One person bought reading glasses. Another a new robe.
“They are staying in dormitories and she needed a bathrobe to go to the bathroom,” said Weisz, noting there are many items that volunteers cannot imagine these individuals need.
One teenager said he purchased a new, favorite shirt.
The remaining funds have been provided to the moshav to assist in further recovery efforts.
Weisz said the money Israel365 raised came from some 600 donors, with an average gift size of $75. The donations poured in from around the world, including the top three donations from Singapore, South Carolina and China.
“Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach did not care who anyone was – he loved Jews and non-Jews,” said Weisz, noting that he plans to try to continue efforts to support the moshav. “The ends are ongoing and everyone should continue to try to help.”
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