Today is February 23, 2018 -
I am a graduate of the Albany JCC Nursery School. One cold winter day during nap-time, there was a fire in the building. We did not have time to put on our coats or even our shoes before being rushed out of the building. Almost 45 years later, I do not close my eyes without having a pair of slip-on shoes close at hand.
Our friends in Eshkol have 15 seconds to find shelter after hearing the siren indicating that a missile is on its way. I can only imagine the short-term and long-term trauma that this must cause. When I visited them in November, the high-school drama club put on a skit, where they were poking fun at people in Tel Aviv who have a minute and a half to find shelter. “With a minute and a half, we’d have time to stop in the kitchen to make a sandwich.” My degree is in accounting, not psychology, but I would guess that this attitude is some sort of coping mechanism.
In 2012, during Operation “Pillar of Defense,” when hundreds of missiles were landing in Eshkol, their leadership asked for our help in renovating their trauma center (referred to as the Resilience Center). We quickly raised and sent $75,000 to add a new reinforced wing to the center.
When our mini-mission visited in November, we saw some drywall and electrical wiring being installed. When the December mission visited, we held a ceremonial ribbon cutting. When two community members went two weeks ago for a drop-by visit, they got to witness move-in day.
For the last eight years of our partnership, the people of Eshkol have certainly appreciated the ~$60,000 per year that we spend directly in their community and, of course, the emergency $75,000 that we sent to them in 2012, but they are, perhaps, just as appreciative of the more than 120 people from northeastern New York who have visited them since November. Federation sent a mini-van in November, 2 buses in December, and 29 high-school students in February. Rabbi Matt Cutler and Congregation Gates of Heaven spent a day during their congregational trip in February as well. We have also set up about a dozen people with private tours of the area, one couple last week and another couple the week before. Visiting Eshkol has been the highlight of most trips to Israel since November.
Upcoming for our partnership, we are working on a trip to Eshkol for our young adults and bringing a group of their high school students to visit us.
At our annual meeting Thursday night, June 12, we will highlight our renewed partnership with Eshkol and recognize those special people who have helped to make it possible. Please see the flyer below listing all of our award recipients as well as our slate of new board members. Join us for this special event.
If anyone is interested in visiting Eshkol for a couple of hours, a day, or even a few days with home hospitality, please call me. It will be my pleasure to set it up for you.