Maryland, Ra'anana 'embrace' Sderot

Nonprofit group to host 15 families from the rocket-plagued town during kibbutz Shabbaton.

Kassam Sderot 88,224 (photo credit: )
Kassam Sderot 88,224
(photo credit: )
A Maryland-based nonprofit organization will host a Shabbaton at Kibbutz Nahsholim this weekend for 15 families from the rocket-plagued town of Sderot. Four women established Operation Embrace seven years ago, after witnessing the devastation caused by terrorist attacks and the strength of the survivors, the group's executive director Aviva Tessler told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. "We hope to accomplish a human connection so families from Sderot who have been directly impacted, physically and emotionally, can see the concern," she said. "People from there have told me, 'One day we are news headlines and the next we are forgotten.'" Other families from Ra'anana will also participate in this weekend's event, Tessler said, adding that the Shabbaton at the coastal kibbutz near Zichron Ya'acov will create bonds between the southerners and the Sharon region residents. Tessler said she hoped the support groups and Shabbat activities would help those the Ra'ananans see the "bigger picture of life in Israel." "No matter where we live, we all live in bubbles and get enclosed inside a routine," she said. "So I think it will be a merit to go outside of our perimeters, to meet people who we wouldn't normally meet, show support, and see the beautiful cultures and traditions that people come from." "In some ways, I wish we could all emulate the people living [in Sderot]," Tessler said. "The people there truly love their city, and as strange as it sounds to love a city that is rocketed everyday, that is the strength of the population. They are very grateful and care about one another." Mary Keyes, a Ra'anana resident and cochairwoman of the Shabbaton, said she had visited Sderot several times and was each time welcomed by families with open arms. "I feel like [the people of Sderot] are forgotten," Keyes said. "Just 45 minutes from here there is a mini-war going on, and it touches all of us. It's important for our kids to see that we are helping and that we haven't forgotten them."