As I sit here in my home just a few miles from Gaza, I am overwhelmed by a myriad of emotions. The sounds of sirens piercing through the air, the earth-shaking explosions and the constant fear of another rocket attack have become a haunting reality for my children and me. Yet in the face of this adversity, we—the people of Israel’s south—aren’t talking about revenge or retribution. Rather, our conversations are about tomorrow and the day after, and how together we will build a better, brighter future for our next generation.
This week, I have cried in joy and in sorrow. A few days ago, my brother-in-law remained determined to celebrate his wedding. Despite being required to reduce the number of guests from 600 to 100 due to newly imposed security regulations, the celebration went ahead. It’s hard to describe what it’s like to feel simultaneous emotions of joy and trepidation as we danced the night away, aware that just a few miles away, there were elements of darkness seeking to extinguish our light.
Living under the constant threat of rocket attacks from terrorists in the Gaza Strip has not broken our spirit. Instead, it has strengthened our resolve to build a community that thrives on hope, resilience and unity. We refuse to be defined by the rockets that rain down upon us; we refuse to let fear dominate our lives. Our goal is to create an environment where our children can grow up without fear, where they can chase their dreams and live fulfilling lives.
More than 90% of children in our region suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, there is nothing “post” about our kids’ PTSD. Their fears are part of an ongoing reality. My daughter, who has been suffering the most from the current situation, has refused to leave our bomb shelter, and continues to cry and pray. I am her abba, her father, so I must remain strong and fearless, even as we face uncertain threats.
Amid the chaos and uncertainty, organizations like Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA) have been an unwavering pillar of support for our community. They understand the importance of investing in our resilience, providing us with the tools and resources necessary to build a better future. Their commitment to places like Sderot, Halutza and communities through the Gaza Envelope and Eshkol Region has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Thanks to their philanthropic investments, they have helped us fortify schools, community centers and playgrounds. They have funded the construction of numerous bomb shelters, enabling us to find safety when we are given only 15 seconds’ notice before an attack. Beyond physical infrastructure, they have supported educational programs and psychological counseling services for our children through their resilience and animal-therapy centers, ensuring our emotional well-being among constant turmoil.
But it’s not just about surviving these difficult times; it’s about thriving despite them. Together, we are empowered to envision a future beyond the conflict.
Make no mistake, with the very first breath and step that we take after emerging from our bomb shelters, we will work harder than ever to build our future. Our dreams will not be shattered, for we know that our greatest strength lies in our unity and our unyielding spirit. Together, we will overcome the challenges we face and create a tomorrow that is marked by prosperity and boundless opportunities for our children, children’s children and generations unborn.
Yedidya Harush is Jewish National Fund-USA’s Halutza Liaison for Negev Community Development.
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