In the wake of the unspeakably horrific events of October 7, Israelis have demonstrated a remarkable unity that speaks to the indomitable spirit of our nation.
President Isaac Herzog remarked on Wednesday that the attack had awakened a profound sense of solidarity among the Israeli people. This heartening unity is palpable across the country as citizens come together to offer unwavering support for one another. Herzog, recognizing this inspiring display of resilience, visited Sderot on Wednesday to witness these efforts firsthand and meet the brave first responders.
Sderot, a city that has borne the brunt of conflict for decades, stands as a prime example of how Israeli society unites in times of crisis. Countless volunteer groups have converged at a local community center, generously providing essential supplies, including food and diapers, to its residents. Lev Ahad, one such group, has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to supporting the Sderot community. Even as some Sderot residents seek temporary refuge in hotels near the Dead Sea and other locations, volunteers continue to pour in.
At the city’s entrance, a food truck selflessly offers complimentary meals to soldiers, first responders, and police officers. Religious groups have arrived to sing and foster a sense of community and joy during these trying times. Members of Ahim Laneshek, a group that had recently protested against the government, are now coming together to provide food and other essential donations at the community center.
Further north, in Ashkelon, Barzilai Medical Center has witnessed a similar outpouring of unity. At the emergency room’s entrance, long tables are laden with food for the victims of the October 7 attack, as the hospital tirelessly cares for the 300 wounded. By Sunday, volunteers from all corners of the country were lining up to donate blood and send food and essential items. Chabad contributed substantial quantities of food, and various small communities dispatched trucks filled with candies and other supplies, which accumulated at the hospital’s entrance.
The Nirlat paint company has exhibited its commitment by donating NIS 250,000 to Kibbutz Nir Oz, where it was originally established. This generous contribution will assist the severely damaged kibbutz and support the members who have evacuated to Eilat. Approximately 19,000 residents from 20 border communities have already evacuated, with more expected to leave Sderot in the coming days.
Another noteworthy initiative aims to bring Israeli soldiers and medical professionals home. An estimated 1,000 soldiers and doctors are stationed in the Far East and seek to return. To facilitate this mission, the Israeli consulate in Dubai, in partnership with a grassroots volunteer effort and a global network of donors, is orchestrating their repatriation. Liron Zaslansky, Israel’s consul general in Dubai, is comanaging this remarkable endeavor, with the support of La’Aretz, a US-based nonprofit.
The stories are endless: the non-kosher restaurants in Tel Aviv transitioning to kosher in an extraordinary effort to provide meals to the soldiers, the volunteers filling town squares to pack care packages for elderly residents of the affected areas, the individuals spontaneously paying for young people’s airfare to enable them to come home and fight.
Standing together as a community
This profound sense of unity is the beacon that makes Israel a shining light among the nations.
While the attack on October 7 was undeniably traumatic – and its horrors reverberate throughout the nation and will do so for many years to come – the immediate response from Israelis was one of compassion and support for one another. Many communities have fallen silent as citizens remain at home or are called up for military duty. Yet, in the face of this adversity, there has been an overwhelming outpouring of goods and collections for the people of the southern regions. This initial response, driven by a deep-seated tradition of rallying together in times of disaster, marks the beginning of the healing process. It is this spirit that distinguishes Israel as a society where the duty to one’s compatriots is unwavering.
In this challenging time, the very best of Israel has emerged, with individuals from all corners of the nation converging on Sderot and the border areas – driven not by orders or commands – from an ingrained habit forged over years of hardship: a commitment to first respond with unity and aid in the face of terror.