Federation leaders Iris Epstein, Vicki Glaser and Judy Diamondstein are currently in Israel, showing solidarity with our brothers and sisters during this difficult time. Their first stop was Yoav, our Partnership2Gether community. Below is a note from Judy after Day 2.
Today was surreal on some levels. Very yin-yang. We began the day at Kibbutz Galon and saw the damage from the rocket by the hen house and spent time visiting the babies and elementary school kids who are spending their days from 7:30 a.m. til 1 p.m. inside tiny hot stuff claustrophobia shelters. So far four rockets have hit in the Yoav region.
When we visited an empty playground, and then the shelter where kids are instead spending their day from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. -- with no airconditioning -- I had to walk away from the group as I shed my first tears of the mission. It's almost unbearable and yet they bear it. They not only survive but they thrive in the face of rockets and terror.
After visiting Galon, we went to Beit Guvrin to tour the caves. It was a ghost town. In many ways just patronizing businesses right now is doing a mitzvah. In addition to the psychological toll and risk of injury, their is a huge economic toll being paid as well.
We had some fun at the caves although we could see smoke rising from Gaza and could hear the booms of the Iron Dome at work over Ashkelon and Ashdod.
We went to Cramim for lunch. It is one of my favorite restaurants. We were the only people there. When I went in January it was full both inside and out with people enjoying it.
From there it was onto to the moatza -- or municipality building -- for a briefing with the mayor and IDF coordinator for Yoav. Usually, the coordinator is a tour guide, but this is the 5th time in four years that he's been called up to run the "war room" and act as liaison for the municipality to the IDF. The war room is located in the only shelter in the building. It's tiny and when there are sirens, more than 40 people cram in like sardines.
We learned that there are not enough shelters in Yoav. In fact, Segula has no public shelter and Nachla and Vardo have only one. More than 70 percent of the people do not have shelters. Only 51 shelters out of a possible 89 are able to be used. We touched a fragment left from a rocket blown up by the Iron Dome. If that were to fall from the sky and hit a person, it could be catastrophic. That is the reason people must stay inside for 10 minutes.