Helping the Right Way

There are many forms of charity defined in Judaism and many performed in Israel on a daily basis. There are people collecting in the streets, even in the restaurants and malls. I’ve been in businesses in Jerusalem when a young high school student walks in and the store owner takes a piece of merchandise and hands it over to be sold for charity and my children have been drafted to go house-to-house to collect.

But what happens when the people who need your charity don’t live in your city or have access to you directly. The answer for 10,000 people recently was to pick themselves up and go to Sderot, a city under constant and daily bombardment by rockets and mortars shot at them from Gaza. The government has done virtually nothing to alleviate this daily occurance. Short of a large and perhaps prolonged ground operation, the army can do little more than pick off rocket launchers as they are found.

The highest form of charity, we are told, is to not just give someone something…but to help them give something to themselves, to help support them in such a way that they can make their own livelihoods with pride. Better than giving someone a fish to eat, for example, it to teach them to fish.

So – this past weekend, 10,000 Israelis made their way to Sderot and made their purchases there, enabling the beseiged people of Sderot to know that they have earned not just their daily bread, but a place in our hearts. There isn’t much we can do to help them – we ordinary Israelis. We can’t stop the rockets (only our government can do that…if they ever get around to doing it), but we can show the people of Sderot that they are not forgotten, that what they experience is very much a part of our lives too. We know when they hear the Code Red and though we don’t run to shelter with them, our hearts go out to them and we too breathe easier only after we hear that the rocket has landed and no one is hurt.

Sometimes, in Israel, the real Israel is one that reaches out in the best possible way – and that was surely the case this past week when 10,000 shoppers took the time to go to Sderot and shop!

From Israel National News:

10,000 Shoppers Flood Sderot in Solidarity Shopping Spree
by Hana Levi Julian and Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

( At least 10,000 shoppers flooded into the rocket-battered city of Sderot on Friday in a pre-Sabbath shopping spree to show solidarity with the residents and inject some much-needed cash into the local economy.

The organizers, a volunteer group from Modi’in, provided the visiting shoppers with a map of Sderot marked with the locations of shopping centers. Shoppers were asked to divide their expenditures among several businesses and to specifically strengthen the smaller shop owners. “Just travel in the city,” organizers said, “get to know it and its residents, and in that way you’ll find more places of business [to patronize].”

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