The Resiliance of Sderot 

The Resiliance of Sderot 

The first time I heard about the Israeli city of Sderot was in middle school, when my American community center hosted about 30 Israeli children, ages 10-15, for two weeks over the summer. These were children right around my age, and in theory, the only difference between us was our nationality. But there was more.

Sderot is a small city that sits less than a mile away from the border between Gaza and Israel. While most of the time, this is an insignificant fact, whenever tensions increase between Hamas (the terrorist organization that governs Gaza) and Israel, Sderot goes under constant rocket fire. The children who visited had lived through many such escalations. Much of their childhood was spent in close proximity to a bomb shelter. I remember one child telling me that even the playground equipment in their city parks had tunnels and slides meant to protect children should there be a rocket attack while they were outside. Such measures are necessary when missiles are fired at you and you only have 10 seconds to run for cover.

Nearly two decades have passed since that summer, but Sderot has remained in my thoughts. On October 7th, 2023, when one of the many (many, too many to count) atrocities occurred in the city of Sderot, my heart ached for those kids I once played ball with and splashed around in the pool. Where were they now? I assumed most of them still lived in Sderot, many with families of their own – like me. All of them had to protect their families on that fateful day, and sadly, I’m sure some of them lost family members or their own lives too.

Israeli security forces at the scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit a shelter in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, Oct. 9, 2023. Photo by Yossi Zamir/Flash90.

Sderot, a city of about 30,000 residents that has endured over 20,000 rocket attacks since 2001, has always had a special place in my heart. I hope that after reading this story and learning about Sderot’s resilience and current struggles, you will not only feel the same way but also be moved to support this brave community in its time of need.

On October 7th, 2023, Sderot became a focal point of tragedy as Hamas terrorists infiltrated the city. The peaceful streets were suddenly filled with violence, as dozens of civilians lost their lives, including a group of Holocaust survivors on their way to a vacation at the Dead Sea. Residents of Sderot found themselves trapped in their safe rooms, surrounded by the terrifying sounds of missiles, gunshots, and screams.

Shmuel Golima with his family

Among those who answered the call to protect Sderot that day was Sgt. Maj. Shmuel Golima, a 49-year-old police officer. Shmuel, who had immigrated from Ethiopia at the age of eight, was not supposed to be working that day. Instead, he was meant to be celebrating the holiday of Simchat Torah with his wife, Sima, and their three children: Elian, Oria, and Elior. But when duty called, Shmuel responded without hesitation.

Shmuel’s story exemplifies the spirit of selflessness that defines Sderot and the people of Israel. Throughout his life, he had been dedicated to helping others, from Holocaust survivors to the hungry and the community’s youth. On that fateful October morning, it was the people of Sderot who needed him, and he showed up ready to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect them.

Tragically, Shmuel never returned home. He was killed while fighting Hamas terrorists at the police station, leaving behind a devastated family and a community in mourning. It took twelve agonizing days before his body was identified, during which time his family lived in a state of desperate uncertainty.

The loss of Shmuel has left an immense void in the lives of his loved ones. Sima now faces the daunting task of raising three children alone, managing household responsibilities, and coping with the loss of her husband’s income and support. The financial and emotional burden on the Golima family, like many others in Sderot, is overwhelming.

But Shmuel’s story is just one of many heartbreaking tales from Sderot. The city’s residents have faced immense challenges in the aftermath of the attack. Many were displaced for their safety, forced to leave behind their homes, schools, and businesses to live in hotels. Even now, as they return to their city, they live under constant threat of rocket attacks from Hamas.

The resilience of Sderot’s people in the face of ongoing threats is remarkable, but they need support to rebuild their lives and secure their future. The trauma of October 7th has left deep scars on the community, and the road to recovery will be long and challenging.

This is where we can make a difference. By contributing to relief efforts for Sderot, we can provide critical assistance to those who have lost loved ones, help rebuild damaged homes and infrastructure, and offer psychological support to traumatized residents. Our support can help ensure that children in Sderot can once again play without fear, and that families can look forward to a more peaceful future.

The needs in Sderot vary significantly. Families like the Golimas require financial assistance to cope with the sudden loss of income and the increased expenses of single parenthood. The city’s infrastructure needs repair and reinforcement to protect against future attacks. Mental health services are crucial to help residents, especially children, process the trauma they’ve experienced and build resilience for the future.

Moreover, supporting Sderot is about more than just addressing immediate needs. It’s about investing in the future of a community that has long stood as a symbol of resilience in the face of adversity. By standing with the people of Sderot, we send a powerful message that they are not alone, that their suffering has not gone unnoticed, and that there is hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Israeli security forces patrol the southern Israeli city of Sderot, October 11, 2023. Photo: Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90

Your generosity can help turn the page on this dark chapter and bring light back to the lives of those who call Sderot home. Every contribution, no matter the size, can make a significant impact in helping this community heal and rebuild. From providing financial support to grieving families to funding educational programs for children to supporting local businesses as they reopen, there are countless ways that your donation can make a difference.

The road ahead for Sderot will not be easy, but with our support, its residents can begin to rebuild their lives and look towards a more peaceful future. Let us stand together with Sderot and with Shmuel, honoring the memory of those lost and supporting those who remain, as they work to create a stronger, more resilient community for generations to come.

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