In the past week, I have felt safe here in Tucson, AZ, but I am not okay. I am far from being okay. My friends and family went through hell and torture, and their suffering is far from over.
If you are lucky enough to be born and raised in Israel, by default, your life is weaved with wars, bombing, conflict, and fallen soldiers (regardless of where you are on the political map). Community shelters in older neighborhoods and safe rooms in new buildings and homes are so common that only when I explain the concept to others, do I realize it is not something normal anyone should get used to, or live with.
What happened on October 7th, 2023 to civilians - babies, kids, women, men, and the elderly in their homes and their beds is inhumane, and simply, pure evil.
The magnitude is beyond comprehension!
Before I get to my personal connection to the massacre in Israel, I would like to explain what a Kibbutz is to those who are not familiar with the term or concept.
A kibbutz is a uniquely Israeli phenomenon with significant cultural legacy and an important role in the nation's history. In Hebrew, the word itself means "gathering". Kibbutzim are communal living situations unique to Israel. There are about 270 kibbutzim dotted across the country. At their heart, kibbutzim are small towns — typically with somewhere between 100 and 1,000 residents/members — historically centered around collective farms. In recent decades, some have come to thrive on modern industry and tourism. A kibbutz is typically, and ironically, an incredibly picturesque, peaceful, and safe place. Before the formation of the state of Israel, the kibbutz played an important role in the Zionist mission of state-building (pioneers). Some kibbutzim were placed strategically near regions like Gaza to help stake the future claim. In the kibbutzim located close to the border with Gaza, rockets from Hamas had long been a regular part of life.
Kibbutz Nirim was attacked and invaded in the horrific and unimaginable events on October 7th.
Back to my personal story: Hadass and Tal are my best friends and chosen family. Tal was born and raised in Nirim, and Hadass met him during her mandatory military service in the Kibbutz 30-plus years ago. Although they no longer live in Nirim, all their friends and family do. They have lost so many friends - some were tortured, burned, and murdered, and some were kidnapped.
The ones who survived are now refugees with no homes to go back to - from newborns to 90-year-old Holocaust survivors. Kids are now orphans, and many parents have lost their children and grandchildren. The survivors have left their homes with no more than the clothes they were wearing. I know and love many of them. I have heard firsthand about the unbelievable evil. I will spare you the details...
The government in Israel - the one I have criticized for many years - is now MIA (not surprising). The salt-of-the-earth people who built Israel and the beating heart of the country, have been abandoned. The help and initiatives are coming only from the people for the people. This is truly the only light in this darkness… togetherness like never before.
The amount of love and support I have received in the past week has been overwhelming. So many of you asked me what you can do to help. The members of Kibbutz Nirim have received all the essentials they needed for the time being in their safe shelter (underwear, basic T-shirts, pants, diapers, formula, food, even some laptops...).
But to heal and rebuild their kibbutz, homes, community, bodies, and souls, they will need resources. They are not rich or wealthy people, and how do you start from scratch at 80 years old (Tal's parents, for example)?
All the support we can give and send from here is money (besides sending love and light).
We cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that this situation has now devolved to devastation all around regardless of the lens with which we choose to view it.
However, one can choose how and where to cast their stone and create a ripple effect.
Today, I choose to help the people I personally know. Please join me.
I am not asking - I am begging - for your help in donations.
Please donate any amount you can. And please don't stop here. I will forever be grateful if you forward this to all your people, your friends, colleagues, family, friends of friends, church, congregation... and ask them to do the same.
To donate, please click on the link below:
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out.
Together, we heal Nirim.
With much love and gratitude,