June 18, 2024
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A Special Paint Night in Israel

When one thinks of staying in a hotel, it sounds luxurious, bringing thoughts of time off from work and a vacation. However, when staying in a hotel for over four months, a replacement for your actual home that was either destroyed on October 7 or is in an area that is unsafe, a hotel takes on a different meaning.

Currently, there are 200 evacuees in the Dan Panorama in Jerusalem, down from the initial 600 people who moved there right after the war began. Some have moved back home and some have moved to towns closer to their work.

Families of five, for example, are living in two rooms; all three children in one room, parents in another with any pets they might have as well.

As I spoke with one family, they expressed appreciation for having a place to live but also discussed the challenges. All three children living together has caused some increased tension and bickering among siblings. The husband needs to commute two hours each way to retain his job, while the wife had to give up her job.

As many of the activities for evacuees often center on the children, one evacuee requested an activity specifically for adults. With generous donations—many from the country club section of Teaneck—we were able to coordinate a paint night for the adults. With wine and a variety of snacks, the women and men had a great evening. Many said they had never done a paint night before. All said it was great therapy for them.

An Israeli artist offered to volunteer her time to run the activity. By the end of the night, she felt she got more out of the paint night than the evacuees. She had wanted to do something to help out during this difficult time but didn’t have an opportunity up until this point, as she was caring for daughters and grandchildren whose husbands were in the army. She thanked us for allowing her this mitzvah.

In addition, we were able to provide gift cards to all of the volunteers who, as evacuees themselves, took it upon themselves to coordinate activities for all the families who have been in the hotel for the past four months.

The appreciation and enjoyment they felt was evident by the laughter in the room, the smiles on their faces and the beautiful pictures they painted.

There are many families who plan on returning home at the end of the month. For those who are remaining in the hotel, the volunteers are already planning ideas for Purim.

This wasn’t a huge, grand event. It was a two-hour evening that was planned in a few days, but had a large impact. The evacuees felt love and support from their brethren in America and will definitely remember it as they restart their lives and rebuild.

The Mendelson women went on their own mission to Israel, volunteering and helping out in any way they could. They later joined the Bergen County Unity Mission where they met very inspiring people who have so much emunah and hope in creating a life of peace for their future.

 

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