Those were the words my wife said to me one evening in late May. As relatively new immigrants in Israel, even after two and a half years, we have witnessed the disengagement (which we watched from our absorption centre), a second war in Lebanon (which occurred simultaneously with our wedding) and read about the constant Qassam attacks on Sderot. Since we no longer had personal excuses during the most recent and ongoing spate of attacks in Sderot, it was time to do our part and volunteer. We found volunteer information through Ynetnews, Ruach Tova and Lev Echad and one Friday headed down to show our support.
Upon arriving at the Sderot Community Centre, we saw about a dozen teenage organizers and even more volunteers, including both groups and individuals. The groups were sent off to their various tasks and the individuals were asked to go from house to house explaining to the new immigrants in Sderot about Lev Echad and how they are contributing and helping the people. Magnets containing Lev Echad's details in multiple languages were distributed.
As I prefer to be more active rather than going door to door, I requested a more physical job and was given the task, together with my wife, to paint the outside of a bomb shelter. We were dropped off in a residential area, with instructions of what to do if the siren went off.
We knocked on doors to find a resident who would give us some water… The houses were empty until we got to the third on the block. A religious woman answered and gladly gave us what we asked. Soon the painting started and the sweat started pouring, but after about an hour and half of work, we finished. The bomb shelter looked improved and we felt a sense of accomplishment.
We returned to the woman’s house to return her bottles of drink and thank her. Without hesitation the woman insisted that we sit down and have lunch. Before we could respond, she had already brought out a full lunch spread. We didn't really know how to react. The woman thanked us over and over for coming and showing our support. She pleaded with us to spread the word, that the residents of Sderot are kind, warm-hearted people, and not to forget them.
It was then that I realized that it isn't the physical act of volunteering that is comforting to the residents of Sderot. They don't need
There are many opportunities to get up and volunteer, but it takes a little selflessness and a little motivation, mixed with a sense of community to get up and make a difference. For a day or a Shabbat, whether it is to physically do or just to show support, it helps. And if you need a selfish reason, well then it definitely makes you feel part of something bigger and it makes you feel as though you are part of the people of the State of Israel.