By Charlene Riegger
Director of Marketing
The idea came up on October 19 during the Women’s Philanthropy Mums and Muffins mitzvah project. Before the ladies began planting flowers outside the JCC they met inside, in the boardroom.
The Operation Swords of Iron Israel Emergency Campaign was less than two weeks old, and the October 7 massacre was still freshly painful for everyone. Miriam Zager, one of the mitzvah project cochairs along with Fay Kun and Ilene Ringold, spoke about the need for women to do something for Israel. Laurie Wax, president of the Jewish Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy, was also there and heartily agreed that the Women’s Philanthropy needed to do something more to help.
Wax decided to hold a bracelet-making event where women (and men) could make and/or buy bracelets, with all the proceeds going to the emergency campaign. On Sunday, November 12, almost 100 women and a few men, including the Federation’s regional security advisor, Tim Brooks, packed the Jewish Day School multipurpose room for a short video and presentation by Meidan Keidar, former Lehigh Valley shlicha (Israeli emissary), and then to make and buy bracelets.
Wax opened the event expressing gratitude for all in attendance and explaining that Nancy and Steve Goldman were providing a match of up to $36,000 of bracelet sales. She asked people to open their hearts and to give until it hurts for Israel.
Next, a video was shown of Adi Shecory, a former Camp JCC counselor from Yoav, the Federation’s Partnership2Gether community in Israel. She spoke about October 7 and that her husband immediately went into service in the Israel Defense Forces. She also returned to the IDF, even though she is a mother and was not required to serve at this time. The video also highlighted performers from the Israeli Opera singing the now famous version of “Bring Him Home” in support of the hostages.
Cantor Ellen Sussman of Temple Shirat Shalom went to the podium to speak about her gratitude for the community when her son and daughter-in-law (Keidar) and their three young children left Israel after the attacks and arrived at her home. Community members were quick to supply her family with all manner of baby and toddler items.
Keidar was introduced and spoke about the fear in Israel on October 7. Her home is near Haifa, in the northern area of Israel, so her family was not near Gaza. Alerts kept buzzing on her phone, however, and the warnings were getting closer and closer to Haifa. She knew she would soon have to take her infant twin boys and her 3-year-old daughter into their safe room. Too soon, she got the alert to do that. They waited in the room for hours until they received the all clear. After that, the family decided to leave Israel to come stay with Sussman.
“I am not brave like Adi,” Keidar said. “I didn’t go back to the Israel Defense Forces after October 7.” Most would agree that working to keep her children safe makes her brave too.
By the conclusion of bracelet sales, the Women’s Philanthropy had sold 553 bracelets and raised $74,000 for the emergency campaign.
Bravery comes in many forms — the bravery of soldiers, mothers, volunteers, donors and more. Most of all, it comes from love, love of people, love of community and love of country.