A year ago a devastating fire burned the entire community of Moshav Mevo Modiim to the ground. But a total miracle occurred as not a single person died in the wildfires.
Israel365 was amongst the first on the ground to raise awareness of the tragedy. We brought international support for the families. Watch Rabbi Tuly Weisz of Israel365 pray with Chinese Christian supporters at the site of the smoldering village.
Within days, the Israel365 Charity Fund sprang into action and took all the families on a shopping spree to buy essential items that were lost in the fire. The organization also distributed gift cards to all the families affected while paying for their dinner and activities for the kids so the parents could shop at the local shopping mall.
“For many families, this was their first family outing since the fire and the significance helped rehabilitate their souls,” Rabbi Weisz told Breaking Israel News. “Several people approached me, saying that it was so comforting that Israel365 stepped in and without asking, did what needed to be done.”
As the 82 families found temporary housing at the Hafetz Haim Kibbutz Guest House, Israel365 created a therapeutic summer camp for the 74 children who had just been displaced from their homes.
As the school year ended, summer began. As all of their toys, games, and bikes were completely destroyed, the children of Moshav Mevo Modiim were getting understandably bored. Their temporary living quarters were too small and cramped for them to run around and enjoy their much-needed summer vacation.
Camp Comfort was born from God’s directive to “Comfort, comfort my people” in Isaiah 40 and is the perfect solution for this special group of children.
“Camp Comfort” provided fun activities each day with special therapeutic programs that allowed for the kids to act, sing and draw in a way that expressed the trauma they had just underwent. In addition to regular sports activities, the children prayed and studied each day and went on special outings (watch Rabbi Tuly with the kids at a rock climbing activity) each week.
Led by a talented and passionate staff, the camp allowed the parents to have time to start rebuilding their lives while their children were having a great time every day at Camp Comfort.
Gradually, the families moved out of their temporary housing into long term apartment rentals in nearby communities. While their situation improved and families with four, five and six children no longer had to sleep in one or two rooms anymore, there was still one problem. The apartments were not furnished.
For families who had lost everything, but who were often able to purchase smaller day to day items, the biggest need was for kitchen appliances. Israel365 purchased refrigerators, stoves, ovens and microwaves for the families in close cooperation with the community leadership who oversaw distribution.
As winter settled in, many of the families began to realize that they were unprepared for the winter. While many families were able to purchase coats and other winter gear for themselves, or were happy to take hand-me-downs from others, no one had adequately thick blankets or heaters for their homes.
Israel365 worked in close collaboration with the community leadership to purchase heaters for every family and heavy blankets for each individual who asked for one. One woman who we met, conveyed with tears in her eyes, that while she desperately needed a heater since she had a newborn grandson living with her, the gift represented so much more in that it warmed her heart and healed her from isolation and depression – truly a heartwarming fulfillment of the prophet Jeremiah’s call to “comfort my people.”
While most of the short term needs for the families have been met as they went through a few months restocking their lives with the basics, some acute individual needs emerged, which Israel365 assisted with. A young mother who just gave birth had no money to purchase a crib, stroller or baby clothes. Ordinarily, she would have been able to borrow from her neighbors, however, in this case, everybody had lost everything, and so Israel365 assisted her and purchased what she needed for her new baby. A film student lost all of his equipment and Israel365 purchased new cameras, lenses and lights so that he could not only resume his studies, but begin to create a documentary on what his friends and neighbors are going through.
Israel365 also planted trees to help make the Moshav green again, working with the community’s gardener Yitzchak ben Yehuda who personally planted thousands of trees on the Moshav over the years. Despite the tragic loss of all his plantings, he was not bitter.
“This was an inferno,” Ben Yehuda said. “It was a wake-up call, a purification that we had to go through. I don’t see it as a bad thing, it renews nature and I think this place was very green before the fire and it is going to be three times greener. I am planning how to plant the trees now. I think it might even be more beautiful.”
“The support of Israel365 has been invaluable to the people of Mevo Modiim” says Chana Schuster, Moshav Mevo Modiim Community coordinator. “The organization provided necessities such as blankets and heaters as well as a tremendous variety of things that would be fun for the residents, whether it’s been through enabling us to run camps for the children last summer or sending everyone on a shopping spree. These types of activities have been raising the spirits of residents throughout the year. We could never fully express our gratitude to Israel365, as the support and assistance have been beyond our wildest dreams. The residents feel the caring and that is the best gift they could ever receive.”
Source: Israel in the News