June 21, 2024
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June 21, 2024
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West Orange and Livingston Communities Support Israel

As soon as word reached New Jersey about the situation in Israel and military mobilization following the attacks by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7, members of the West Orange/Livingston communities quickly mobilized their collective efforts to send supplies and other assistance.

Moshe Glick noted that there was a subgroup formed within the West Orange/Livingston Chesed Committee the last time that Israel was under attack. At that time, the group marched and rallied in Livingston and started other initiatives. The team automatically remobilized as soon as the Simchat Torah Yom Tov ended.

“My wife Renee helped organize one of the first airlifts of supplies and equipment to Israel. The West Orange and Livingston communities stepped up in incredibly generous ways. We filled several pick-up trucks of supplies in the first two days while Tuvia Kimmel did incredible fundraising and went out to buy cases of supplies.”

As needs became known, committees were formed to fill them. Fifty duffel bags of supplies needed for three IDF army units were quickly obtained by Yonna Rosenberg, Eric Samson, Yoni Muschel and Aharon Kestenbaum, who moved heaven and earth to obtain and find transport to Israel for items that were unavailable in Israel.

“We were able to supply 200 military approved shooting gloves, 200 military approved goggles, 120 g shock watches, 70 leatherman knives, 70 thermals, 70 camelbacks and 70 headlamps,” said Rosenberg.

“Seeing this gear in our soldiers’ hands is an incredibly rewarding feeling,” said Glick.

This grassroots effort organized and promoted rallies in support of Israel in the metropolitan New York/New Jersey area as publicized via a re-energized “Stand With Israel” WhatsApp group. The close to 800 members are presented with daily action items to help support Israel and include political action and social media campaigns, etc. A recently held march and rally in cooperation with the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ drew more than 5,000 to Livingston. Attendees included 70 community institutions including synagogues and interfaith groups.

The group has also been instrumental in leading the charge leading to having several anti-Israel conferences canceled from major venues. Glick noted that “there are individuals and groups working across the country with whom we have informally connected and are working on a national response.”

When called upon, the community quickly came together to do what was needed. Muschel said there were “too many people to count. Endless volunteers of people who would drop whatever they were doing to do whatever was needed. They would drive to the airport and drop off bags and drive to a warehouse and pick up supplies; other people donated money, clothes, gear, suitcases.

“I’ve learned the difference between quality tactical gear and subpar gear,” he added, “a skill that I hope I’ll never have to revisit again in my life.”

Rosenberg was not surprised with the outpouring of action and support. “Truthfully, the Livingston and West Orange communities work together to help collect food to help families, provide rides to elderly people who need to get to doctors and, if needed, send supplies to Israel. I am only one of many people who are involved in chesed and helping where the need arises. If this war has taught us anything it is that we are one and it is up to us to work together as Jews to help each other both locally and abroad.”

According to Muschel, “The local Jewish community came together in a heartbeat to help in any way that they could, but that wasn’t so surprising. I think the most surprising thing to see was El Al’s help in getting supplies to Israel. I was never charged for the extra bags I was sending. They didn’t give anyone a hard time about weight. They knew that so many people were sending supplies to Israel and they were happy to accommodate. El Al isn’t known for its customer service, but the past few weeks they have been a pleasure to work with.”

Glick said, “Money, time and manpower do not define our limits. As every Jew feels this incredible desire to help … we too cannot sleep at night. We are dedicated to doing whatever we can to focus the world’s attention on the release of our hostages and end the sickening rule of Hamas. If you want to get involved, please reach out … we need you! Klal Yisrael needs you!”

As supplies have become more readily available in Israel and IDF units have what they need, the focus has shifted to more actionable items that everyone can do. Glick noted that in addition to working on the cancellation of antisemitic conferences at venues nationwide, assistance is needed for the documentation of antisemitic activities on campus and assisting attorneys to sue universities under Title 6. They are also planning other major initiatives including a day of solidarity and Israel action and are in the early stages of planning a march on Washington.

“We are in for a long public relations battle. The murdered bodies of Jewish women and children aren’t even cold yet and the world denies this has happened. The Jewish people united cannot be defeated; everyone is needed to work together in some way,” he added.

Muschel can tell you from hearing directly from the Israeli soldiers that they are incredibly moved by these quick acts of kindness and generosity. To get a message on a Tuesday afternoon that the soldiers need specific supplies, and be able to get it to them by Shabbat, is a testament to the amazing things that can be done as a community when the community works together.

He emphasized, “We need to hold onto our connections and achdut from the last few weeks and continue working together in supporting the people in Israel, in whichever way they need.

Those who would like to volunteer and/or make a tax-deductible donation, contact [email protected].

Deborah Melman is a staff writer at The Jewish Link.

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