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From one generation to another: Youth-led aid for southern Israel

The money wasn’t just a donation; it was a beacon of hope aimed at bringing a semblance of normalcy to the lives of children in southern Israel.

Israeli children living in the southern part of the country receive games as part of a bat mitzvah project, October 2023. Credit: Courtesy.
Israeli children living in the southern part of the country receive games as part of a bat mitzvah project, October 2023. Credit: Courtesy.

In the midst of the turmoil that has gripped southern Israel, where the youth have not known a year without the threat of rocket fire from across the border with the Gaza Strip, a heartwarming act of generosity emerged from halfway across the world.

Sophie, a 12-year-old girl from Englewood, N.J., felt compelled to make a difference. Instead of enjoying the entirety of her bat mitzvah gifts, she gave $2,000 of it to children who have been subjected to relentless threats, many of whom will face long-term mental health challenges.

The money wasn’t just a donation; it was a beacon of hope aimed at bringing a semblance of normalcy to the lives of these children.

The funds were utilized to buy games intended to be distributed among approximately 50 families in the region. In an act of further kindness and solidarity, leading games company HaKubia matched Sophie’s original contribution. Shoshana Teller, its owner, voiced concerns about the lasting impacts of the ongoing conflict on the children.

“While a huge segment of our population lives mere seconds away from a bomb shelter, the psychological effects on the kids are profound. We might not be able to halt the rockets, but we can certainly try to bring smiles to these young faces,” said Teller.

Behind this benevolent initiative was Ya’ara Blum, a 17-year-old from Eli. Despite living in a relatively peaceful area, she felt a moral duty to help those less fortunate. “We are blessed to live in Eli; we haven’t experienced a single siren. It’s generally quiet here. But staying at home made me feel as if I was missing out on an opportunity to help,” she said.

The distribution of these games is being facilitated in Ashkelon with the local city administration lending a helping hand in identifying the most vulnerable families. The gesture, sparked by Sophie’s genuine concern, acted as a catalyst, inspiring others to step up and make a difference. As a result, around 200 children from 50 families will benefit from this act of kindness.

While this one gesture may not alter the course of the ongoing conflict, it serves as a poignant reminder of the power of compassion.

As Ya’ara aptly put it, “The most vital message we want to convey to the people of the south is that they are not alone, and we will never abandon them.”

Israeli children living in the southern part of the country receive games as part of a bat mitzvah project, October 2023. Credit: Courtesy.
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