On Friday, thousands of Israelis from all over the country made a special trip to Sderot to support the town with a massive grassroots shopping spree in the rocket-battered city's stores and groceries.
The shopping extravaganza was the brainchild of Ilan Cohen who felt that the people of Israel can give some comfort to Sderot residents at a time when the Israeli Government seems incapable of stopping the shelling of the town.
According to Yogev Shapira, a co-organizer of the "Shayara" (shopping convoy), the original idea was to bring a much needed cash flow into the city without handing out charity. "Ilan came up with a great idea to do our shopping there," said Yogev. "Our first convoy had only 35 cars, while the second one had 300 cars and included more than a thousand people who purchased half a million shekels of groceries and toys in Sderot," he declared enthusiastically.
This past Friday's convoy was the biggest yet with 700-800 cars, 4,000 participants, and about two million shekels in the hands of Sderot merchants. "This is certainly not the last time we will be here - we hope that whole cities will take turns to come down weekly to do their shopping in Sderot," said Shapira.
Yishai and Malkah Fleisher of Israel National Radio made an appeal on their show calling for people to donate for the shopping trip. On Friday morning they, along with Arutz Sheva programmer Dan Paley, headed down to the convoy with $900 in donations. "Spending $900 in a few hours is no easy feat, but we managed to do it," said Yishai.
When the shopping was done, the IsraelNationalRadio.com team headed to the Sderot residence of Bruriah, a single mom who recently spoke on Yishai and Malkah's show: "My daughter Ohr asks me, 'Do you love me? If you love me, why do you put me in this danger? Why can't we go outside?'"
Bruriah lamented, "Go explain to this little girl that this is the place I live. This is the place I pay my mortgage. I have job at Elite foods here, and have been working here for ten years. I have my salary here - this is the place that keeps me alive. I cannot switch to go to someplace else, to find a job, and to find a home. I don't have the money."
The IsraelNationalRadio.com team gave Bruriah and Ohr the bulk of the purchases including a stuffed lion, a new backpack, school supplies, four balls for neighborhood kids, and new shoes and clothes, and children's Torah books. Bruriah was also put in charge of giving out the two dozen wine bottles, jars of honey, and assorted other items to needy people in the neighborhood.
"We got donations from all over the world, including $500 from one lady in Australia who said that she was a single parent and raised her two children alone, and when she heard Bruriah on the radio it just broke her heart," said Malkah Fleisher. " I am sure her heart would have healed in an instant if she could have seen Ohr's face when she received all this blessing," added Malkah.
"Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish new year, is a time for t'shuva (repentance) which is done through regret, prayer, and acts of kindness. But opportunities for kindness like this do not appear often," said Yishai at the conclusion of a long and satisfying day.
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Imagine that in Poland in 1940, Jews are able to escape, although it will cost some money and they will lose their houses and jobs. A child says to her mother: "Do you love me? If you love me, why do you put me in this danger? Why can't we move somewhere else?" And the mother answers, "This is the place I live. This is the place I pay my mortgage. I have a job here, and have been working here for ten years. I have my salary here - this is the place that keeps me alive. I cannot switch to go to someplace else, to find a job, and to find a home. I don't have the money." The Organization to Save Polish Jewry raises money and organizes a massive shopping trip to encourage Jewish businesses in Poland to stay open. They shower hundreds of dollars worth of gifts on the little girl and her mother.
What would we say to such a scenario? We would say, "If the only obstacle stopping these people from moving elsewhere is lack of money, and this organization raised so much money, why didn't they use the money to help them escape? Why didn't they work on getting the woman a house and a job somewhere else?" Jews in Europe would have been happy getting a visa and a ticket to any country in the world, even without guaranteed income, if only they could get out.
The answer is that the goal of Zionism is not to save Jewish lives, only to strengthen the state. Just as the Zionists at the time of the Holocaust only agreed to save Jews if they could come to Palestine and contribute to the building of the state, so too today's Zionists do not consider the option of saving Jews by helping them escape from the state. Whatever help they offer is only in the context of their ideology.
But a child cannot be fooled. From a child's innocent mouth comes the central question we put to the Zionists: "Do you love me? If you love me, why do you put me in this danger?"