May 17, 2012
Looking After Our Own
Local leaders’ often deliver emotional pitches for donations to Tomchei Shabbos, the Five Towns Food Bank and Hatzalah. They say that although there are abundant worthy causes worldwide, it’s our obligation first to provide for our own neighbors. Impassioned pleas for aid to Israel have been made by UJA, Israel Bonds, Magen David Adom, Shaare Zedek and Hadassah. There is no conflict here; as Zionist Jews we view Israel as our ancestral home and Israelis as family. The only issue is choosing a worthwhile cause and giving what we can during tough economic times.
We consider Israel as a second home and Israelis as family, since between my husband and myself, we have cousins living from Nahariya in the north to Beersheva in the south, and in between. They serve in the IDF, work as doctors, nurses and in hi-tech and live in vulnerable spots within missile range of Lebanon and Gaza. Israel is on our minds about as much as New York City.
On Wednesday, May 23, 7 P.M., we’ll give tribute to the Israel Defense Force at a dinner for Friends of the IDF at the Sephardic Temple in Cedarhurst. Proceeds benefit Israel’s soldiers through educational, social, cultural and recreational programs and facilities. It also provides support for the families of fallen soldiers.
We will honor our local “Lone Soldiers” who have left their homes to serve in the IDF. I happen to know two of these brave, selfless young people, Leor Bareli and Jacob Steinblatt, HAFTR alumni and exceptional students with bright futures ahead who are taking time out to serve Israel.
We befriended Mindy and James Steinblatt at HAFTR’s new parents’ open house in 1992. Our sons and Jacob shared many interests and fun times. We met the Bareli’s more recently when Davira became one of my yoga teachers and I realized Leor was a grade ahead of my daughter Nina. At HAFTR High School’s Yom Haatzmaut commemoration, Moriel read aloud a poignant letter his sister Leor sent from Israel about one “Masa,” a mandatory grueling army hike she endured during her training, and what she learned from the experience. Here are short bios of two incredible (yet “normal”) local diasporans adapted from their moms’ words.