Anglo therapists lend helping hands to Sderot residents

"I believe all Israelis want to do something to help Sderot residents but don't know how."

sderot therapist 224.88 (photo credit: Shelly Paz)
sderot therapist 224.88
(photo credit: Shelly Paz)
"I feel I touched the people here in a unique and a different way. I don't think they were touched like this for a long time," massage therapist and personal trainer Jerry Hyman told The Jerusalem Post at the end of a hot day in Sderot on Tuesday. Eight therapists from Jerusalem, Gush Etzion, Beit Shemesh and Efrat traveled to Sderot on Tuesday morning to try to release some of the locals' accumulated tension. Daniel Tarlow, who made aliya to Elazar in Gush Etzion from London with his wife and three daughters soon after the Second Lebanon War, came up with the idea. Dozens of therapists from all over the country signed up for the project, which he published on-line, but Tarlow thought that bringing smaller groups of therapists to Sderot every few weeks would be most efficient. Tuesday's group found itself in the Gila Community Center for the Elderly, where dozens of veteran Sderot residents received half-hour massage treatments. "I believe all Israelis want to do something to help Sderot residents but don't know how. The truth is... all you need to do is ask, 'What can I do?' Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach once said, 'We don't have many rabbis, so each one of us needs to be one.' I think we all can and should do something," Tarlow said. "Not only Israelis, but people around the world in general feel other people's pain and recognize that they need to do something," said Chava Ashkenazi, a therapist from Ramat Beit Shemesh who made aliya seven years ago from Maryland. "I think everyone should think what they were blessed with and [help] other people enjoy it," she added. Hyman, originally from Boston and now living in Efrat, said that when he and his wife had visited a family whose son was killed in the March 6 terrorist attack at Jerusalem's Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, they "personally felt wounded." "I think that the situation of the people in Sderot hurts us all and affects all of us. This is how the health care culture was developed. This is why we care," he said. Hyman said he was glad he could share something with Sderot's residents. "Treating someone has deeper aspects that - whether you intend it or not - connect you to the person you treat, and the patients know that. Therapy isn't just for the body, but also for the mind and the spirit," Hyman explained. Jerusalem resident Avi Dzik, who came to Israel from New York a year and a half ago, said he "could have shopped in Sderot [referring to a recent initiative that encourages people to shop in Sderot]... When I saw Daniel's ad, I thought that it was the best way to help," Dzik said. "Right now, I feel very satisfied. I had five people to work on today, I didn't come here for nothing." The therapists sounded satisfied, and the patients looked and sounded refreshed. "I'm glad I came. I didn't expect to get a massage. That was a nice surprise that made me feel much better," said Frida Spector, 77, who has lived in Sderot for 34 years, thanking the group. She added with a smile that she'd forgo the massages if it meant the Kassam rocket attacks from Gaza would stop.