Just Do It: How You Can Help Us in Israel
By Romi Sussman
I’m not embarrassed to say that I am, at times during the day, depressed.
I get up each day, remembering that yesterday there was another stabbing, another car ramming, another stone throwing that ended in injury, and I have trouble waking up.
As the terror has gotten closer and closer to home, there are days when I have trouble getting through the afternoon…and the evening.
But I do, because that’s what we do (obviously) and because the only answer to terror is to keep going and building and living and loving.
Or something like that.
So, very often, to get through my day I work on getting OUT of myself. How do I do that? I have a few key things that I do to rise above myself and our national situation and to feel better.
When I do my grocery shopping at the neighborhood Rami Levi each week (the Rami Levi where a mother of eight was stabbed in the back and left for dead last week), I buy extra cakes and cookies. And I bring them over to the Pina Chama (heated resting points for soldiers) so that the many, many soldiers who are trying to guard us and keep us alive will have goodies to enjoy.
And when I drive towards Kfar Etzion and Bat Ayin (which I do about once a week or more), I go into the bakery in Kfar Etzion and I buy either two coffees or two ice coffees and a bunch of bakery goods. Then, I park near the bus stop where our boys were kidnapped last year, and I bring the two soldiers who are there the goodies.
I love to see the looks on their faces when I bring them these treats. They are always so appreciative – so sweet – when I’m the one who is trying to show my appreciation for them and my gratitude for what they are doing.
And then, most recently, as the #Eatifada idea has taken root, Josh and I have gone to dinner and to breakfast a number of times. We’ve gone out in Jerusalem a few times, and out in the Gush as well. The restaurants need our support and going out allows us to get out of our heads (well, at least mine) for a bit while supporting a local establishment.
These are my weekly rituals and the ways that I’m trying to do something good for others in the face of so much evil.
There are other things that have been helping me as well. And I started to realize that my dear friends and family in the States, who want to help but don’t know what to do, might benefit from a list. I am not in any way trying to pat myself on the back for the things I’m doing; nor am I trying to imply that you’re not doing enough, no matter where you live. But, should you be looking for more involvement and for ideas, here is a list.
My list is in no way all-inclusive. Hopefully, others will add ideas in the comments or will offer up their own lists. But here are mine:
It’s not all about the money: While I’m going to offer a lot of financial ways to help here in Israel, I want to offer you a few that aren’t about money. So let’s start with them. I can’t speak for other people, but I really appreciate hearing from people outside of Israel right now. While I’m not a phone talker, and I, in particular, don’t want to talk after something has happened, I love email and WhatsApp. We have dear friends who WhatsApp us once, twice a week just to say hi. “How are you today?” “I just heard about the latest attack. How are you holding up?” These messages are priceless to me and they make an enormous impact. Private Facebook messages are similarly helpful, as are emails.
- Physical Presence
Your physical presence is like gold to us. Last week, Josh and I were at a restaurant in Jerusalem and we noticed that at least half the people there were on Christian missions. The Christians are still coming; many Asian tourists are around; but the Jewish tourists? Many tend to stop coming when things get rough. Last week, our favorite artisan bread bakery, PatBaMelach, even hosted a group of Amish tourists. The Amish are coming to Gush Etzion!! But are you? I know it takes money and time away from work to get here. I’m not at all belittling that. But having your feet on the ground offers us emotional support, even more than the financial support that you’re giving to the State when you eat in the restaurants, shop in the stores, and stay in a hotel. So come.
- Financial Help
You may not be able to come here, but there are still many ways that you can help Israel financially. There are so, so many ways to help, that it’s often hard to even know where to start. Here are just a few ideas. There are so many more out there.
- Give through me; you won’t get a tax deduction, but I can guarantee that every cent you give will go directly to feed tired and hungry soldiers. If you’re a friend of mine (or you can do this with another friend who lives in Israel), you can send me money directly. I can use this money for various activities. I can buy soda and bakery goods for those soldiers at the bus stop or I can buy extra food for the Pina Chama. Last summer, during the war, people sent me an amazing amount of money and I kept running to the Pina Chama and bringing things to the soldiers on the streets.
This serves a few purposes. It helps out our soldiers, and it keeps me occupied and allows me to take my mind off of the situation. It also puts food directly into the hands of the people you are trying to help (I can send you pictures if you want!)
- Send someone you know out for a meal. There is a campaign going on at the moment called Eatifada that encourages Israelis to get out and eat in the restaurants that are hardest hit by the situation. Last week, a generous friend of ours sent us money and told us to go out to eat, but to do so in a restaurant that has lost a lot of business. If you do this for friends, you are helping the Israeli economy, keeping young student/waiters/waitresses/cooks employed and helping to lift the spirits of friends who probably need a night out.
- The Gush Etzion Foundation: You can earmark your gift for the Pina Chama, helping out soldiers. This page also shows many other ways that you can earmark your funds to help us here in the Gush. Unfortunately, we seem to be at the center of things here and the Gush Etzion Foundation is constantly working to improve our security, fund the Pina Chama and generally improve the lives of the residents, especially in hard times.
- Standing Together: They help soldiers in many different ways, whether it’s bringing food to bases or buying warm winter gear for our soldiers.
- Both the One Family Fund and the Koby Mandell Foundation work with victims of terror and their families. So does the American Friends of NATAL.
- A friend of mine forwarded me this idea. This is a specific army unit that needs better equipment. They can’t always get everything that they need from the army. Learn more about their campaign.
These are just a few of the many ways that you can get involved.
Whatever you do – just do it. Call or write a friend. Check the news regularly so you know what’s going on (Israeli sites, not international ones), come for a visit, give a donation, or think of other ideas.
The bottom line, as Nike says, is JUST DO IT.
Romi Sussman heads the content writing department for a technology and digital consulting company. Originally from Los Angeles, California, she made Aliyah from Potomac, MD and is raising six boys in the hills of Gush Etzion. She frequently blogs about life in Israel and her experiences over the last decade.