Memory, loss and rebuilding after rockets destroy an IDF synagogue

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel solemnly recalled the six million Jews who were systematically murdered during World War II.

May 9, 2019 23:28
4 minute read.
THE DAMAGED Synagogue at the Kissufim IDF base in the South

THE DAMAGED Synagogue at the Kissufim IDF base in the South. (photo credit: Courtesy)

These past weeks have been an intense period for Israel – not only because of the emergency we are currently facing, with hundreds of rockets launched into the country by the Hamas terrorist organization, but also because of three national holidays.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel solemnly recalled the six million Jews who were systematically murdered during World War II.

On Remembrance Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel we mourned the loss of soldiers and civilians who have been killed in war and in terrorist atrocities.

And on Wednesday – Independence Day – the country turned sadness into celebration.

Over the past week, because of the current security situation and holidays, the entire State of Israel has felt the significance of each of these days experientially – of memory, loss and rebuilding.

Likewise, an incident at the IDF’s Kissufim base in southern Israel has shed further light onto these symbolic times.

In addition to the rockets that have fallen in Israel’s southern communities, a Hamas-fired rocket recently hit an IDF zone, destroying a military synagogue built by Yahad–United for Israel’s Soldiers, the only Israeli government-sanctioned organization tasked with ensuring soldier welfare.

The rocket that hit the on-base synagogue for soldiers adjacent to the Gaza Strip destroyed something very precious: a Torah scroll donated through the Friends of the IDF (FIDF) in memory of a Holocaust survivor from New York.

This tragic loss is quite symbolic.

Memory, symbolized by Holocaust Remembrance Day, is the Torah scroll.

Loss, symbolized by Yom Hazikaron, is the current security situation in which hundreds of missiles and rockets left many Israelis injured and four dead.

Rebuilding of life, symbolized by Independence Day, is our task as Yahad–United for Israel’s soldiers.

After Holocaust Remembrance Day and Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s War, we understand that we can only celebrate Independence Day because of IDF soldiers who work day and night to destroy terrorist tunnels, control violent riots, stop rocket launches and prevent burning kites and explosive balloons from landing on Israeli soil.

In order to rebuild, we connect donors from all over the world with soldiers, including through the adopt-a-combat-battalion program, in order to increase the spirit of the IDF and show soldiers that they are never alone. That which is destroyed will be rebuilt unconditionally, including the destroyed synagogue.

Toward these ends, this week, when most of the roads were closed around Gaza, Yahad was there with the soldiers, providing drinks and candy. Every time a unit is called to the border or the field, Yahad follows them with mobile trucks to provide for their needs.

FORTUNATELY, MANY people in Israel and around the world have also come together and want to support these very soldiers.

While the IDF is in charge of providing food for soldiers, providing for the spirit of the IDF is the responsibility of Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers. We would like to remind those who want to help that the best way to support soldiers is through Yahad, the only organization that can legally offer gifts them.

Under Israeli law, all donations – money or otherwise – must go through Yahad or other pre-approved organizations that fund raise for Yahad, including FIDF, American Friends of LIBI and other Yahad branches around the world in such places as Mexico, Canada, France and the UK. Other independent organizations which arrange funds and gifts in the name of IDF soldiers do not operate under IDF regulations and unfortunately waste the efforts, money and time of well-meaning supporters.

Through Yahad, every dollar and shekel goes directly to the IDF in order to help soldiers in the areas they need most, oftentimes supporting lone soldiers with housing and a flight to their home countries during their service. Additionally, for combat soldiers and lone soldiers alike, Yahad provides education and morale-boosting packages and services checked and approved by the IDF. Working within this system is the best and safest way to serve the IDF and the people of Israel.

 Next week, Yahad will be bringing three big vans full of packages to the North, South and center of Israel with the purpose of making soldiers feel good. In case an incursion is needed, Yahad will be ready with volunteers to show the soldiers support and bring them anything they may need, at any time, in order to raise morale.

Uniting and supporting Israel’s troops is as important today as it is every single day. At the same time, I speak openly when I say that a potential war is brewing, and we must be fully prepared as well as pray for peace. As we conclude the days of Remembrance and Independence, we remember those who gave their lives for the State of Israel and Jews all over the world, and thank the supporters of the IDF.

The writer is a brigadier general (res.) who served in the IDF for 27 years, CEO of Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers, and chairman of the Paratroops Heritage Association. Despite injuries sustained in southern Lebanon, he continued to fight and was honored with a citation for his bravery under fire. His last active duty was chief of Southern Command.

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