Last Monday, together with Ms. Sigal Peretz Yahalomi, AKIM ISRAEL’s General Director and Mr. Avi Masfin, AKIM ISRAEL’s spokesperson, we visited our civil front in Ashdod and Ashkelon. We met some wonderful people dealing with their harsh reality. In Akim’s apartment in Ashdod, we met Dina, who together with her friends divides her schedule into 45 seconds units, so that in every activity and situation, she will be able to make it to the shelter that is situated in the courtyard outside the building. Their togetherness – their singing, the social and creative activity, help her in dealing with her paralyzing fear. Yet, even when she is protected by her friends in the shelter, she is still worried about her mother, who is over 80. Her mother lives by herself in Ashdod in a high building where she has no chance whatsoever to reach the shelter of the building in the short timeframe the citizens of Ashdod have between the moment the siren is heard and the actual fall of the rocket.
The residents of the apartment are constantly supported by the wonderful people of the Akim Ashdod branch.
In Ashkelon, together with Mr. Asher Ophri, AKIM Ashkelon’s chairperson, we met the residents of the Dolev Hostel. They also talked about their fears, anxieties and the way to overcome them. Some of them sleep in the shelter, since they cannot make it from the end of the corridor in 35 seconds from the minute the siren is heard. We learned that in spite of the fear and anxiety they help each other, especially those who are in wheelchairs and those who have difficulty walking, so that they will be safe. We met David, particularly kind and generous, who moved to the neighborhood shelter, which also serves as the AKIM club, so that he could ensure it is clean and tidy for the neighbors who frequent it. He also takes care of the computers and the equipment of the AKIM club during its use as a shelter.
The following evening, I participated with my wife at the closing of Ramadan dinner of our people in Nazareth. I was particularly touched by the letter of the chairperson of the AKIM branch, Mr. Karim Izbak, in which he said that his home was open to anyone from the South of Israel who would like to come. I am sure that this letter moved a lot of people in AKIM and to my mind it is a perfect expression of our capacity to create a sense of belonging and cooperation based on mutual respect. The singing of Yafia’s Sheich, accompanied by the spontaneous dancing of our people, some in wheelchairs, was a moment of joy in an evening when all the speakers emphasized a simple truthful message: during times of war everyone suffers, but our people suffer more and therefore everyone wishes for peace but our people want it more….”
Later on, on our way home, Sigal told me about the outstanding activity of Ms. Ilana Nuriel, Chairperson of the Association of Friends of AKIM Israel, who raised significant funds for AKIM which will enable us to carry on evacuating our people from the South to get a few days of calm and quiet in areas far from the battles and the rockets.
During the last week, everywhere I visited, I met faithful, diligent employees who leave their families to take care of our people. I met volunteers who are real altruists. Together with the anxiety of our existence, I saw in Akim the nice side of the Israeli society: the mutual respect and concern for the other. As in every other society we are tested in our attitude towards the weak, especially in times of crisis. Akim has passed this test admirably. We are not yet in “the day after”. However, I felt the need to write about my feelings today.
I believe that the things I saw reflect experiences shared by many in AKIM and in our society. This is the bright side of the dark times we are forced to live in. Notwithstanding the debate on what is a civil victory, I have no doubt that the capacity to stay human – to respect each other and to be concerned by the other, even in these harsh times, – are the preconditions for such a victory.
Leadership | Board of Directors
President: Diane Richler, C.M.
Vice-President: Michael Sax
Treasurer: Morry Nosak
Secretary: Mark Gelfand
Director, Community Outreach: Adam Freedman