Rabbi David Fendel, head of the Hesder Yeshiva of Sderot, spent this past Shabbat in Atlantic Beach. He has helped develop Sderot into a thriving and bustling metropolis over the past 30 years. The mayor and deputy mayor of Sderot are graduates of Rabbi Fendel’s yeshivah, among more than 2,000 other alumni.
Fendel is a remarkable and extraordinary man. He has made his yeshivah’s study hall rocket-proof, developed a cultural park nearby, and is currently working on building a girl’s school. He is a modern-day hero.
I have visited Sderot multiple times on my missions to Israel. Nassau County executive Bruce Blakeman reminded me that we went to Sderot together in 2014. Nassau County will be partnering with Sderot in the near future.
Sderot has sustained thousands of rocket attacks over the years. Two weeks ago, a rocket went through the roof of a home. The more the rockets fly, however, the more Sderot grows and expands.
Because of the rockets, the Israeli government and philanthropists from around the world have gotten involved in supporting Sderot. For example, the Iron Dome system has been effective in preventing loss of life.
Despite the constant attacks, the Jews of Sderot have no fear. They are a fully integrated community comprised of Ashkenazim, Sephardim and Ethiopians. They all get along. It is not unlike any other Israeli town or village—a veritable microcosm of Israel at 75.
Sderot is the frontline for Arab aggression, less than a kilometer from the Gaza border. I remember seeing a terror tunnel that Hamas had dug into Sderot on one of my visits.
Sderot must be protected like any other community in Israel, but we must remember that Israel at 75 is stronger than ever. It has a lot to be proud of. The next 75 years should see Israel grow exponentially. It is an absolute miracle that it has become the great country it has become. Sderot is a good example.
Dr. Joseph Frager is chairman of Israel advocacy for the Rabbinical Alliance of America, chairman of the executive committee of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim and executive vice president of the Israel Heritage Foundation.