“When you pass through water, I will be with you; Through streams, They shall not overwhelm you. When you walk through fire, You shall not be scorched; Through flame, It shall not burn you. Isaiah 43:2 (The Israel Bible™)
Two weeks ago, the residents of Mevo Modi’im were forced to flee their homes with no warning as wildfires, the result of arson, raged at the gates of their community. They returned to find that 50 of the 60 houses were destroyed. Even the homes left standing were uninhabitable, the infrastructure for water and electricity completely destroyed. The tragedy was unprecedented in Israeli history. An entire community had to begin their lives anew, replacing the countless items that make daily life possible.
Rev. Brimmer related how one man approached her after purchasing a pair of reading glasses.
“I think that the event was more than just a shopping trip,” Rev. Brimmer said to Breaking Israel News. “It was clear that the people felt loved, that people contributed because they cared. It is so important that Mevo Modi’im, which has been a symbol of inclusivity, feels this. We all walked away feeling that there was good in the world.”
The community of Mevo Modiin was founded by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, known as the singing rabbi. His brand of Judaism, based on love and inclusion, attracted many from the hippie counterculture in the 1960’s. Many young Jews came to his small synagogues in New York City and San Francisco called “The House of Love and Prayer.” Many of these people followed him to Israel, settling in Mevo Modiin in 1975 when the region was largely unsettled. The group is a collection of eclectic individuals, including musicians, artists, organic farmers, wine makers, perfumers, and Torah scholars. Their hand-painted synagogue, itself a work of art, was filled with joyous service based on the songs of Rabbi Carlebach.
The community had an open-door policy and brought many people, Jew and non-Jew, closer to Torah with their unique brand of joyous service to God. This undoubtedly was an approach they learned from their ‘rebbe’ (spiritual teacher), Rabbi Carlebach. Known simply as ‘the Moshav’, the extended family of these very special Jews circles the globe.
Each individual was given NIS 500. The Moshav is blessed with many large families and the per-person allowance was enormously helpful. Rev. Brimmer praised the Azrieli Mall in Modi’in which extended a 20 percent discount to all the people, increasing the impact of the project.
But works of loving-kindness require much more than writing a check and this was clearly the case as the sponsors arranged for babysitters. All this was so the parents could focus on rebuilding their lives.
The co-sponsors also paid for the children to play at a small amusement area in the mall and for the families to eat at the food court. This transformed the shopping trip into an enjoyable family night out bringing a ray of joy to a dark period. The festive atmosphere was lifted even higher as Yoni Tokayer, of the husband-wife musical group Yonina, joined with Akiva Gersh to perform for the attendees. The families have been housed in a dormitory normally used for a youth village and though their basic necessities are taken care of, the conditions are difficult and there have been few reasons to smile. Azrieli Mall set aside a special section for the people to gather.
The gathering at Azrieli Mall was powerfully significant. After the evacuation, the families gathered at the mall to wait out the wildfire. The experience was so traumatic that many vowed never to set foot in the mall again.
“For many families, this was their first family outing since the fire and the significance helped rehabilitate their souls,” Rabbi Weisz told Breaking Israel News. “Several people approached me, saying that it was so comforting that Israel365 stepped in and without asking, did what needed to be done.”
The soul connection was expressed in an additional manner. The Moshav is a deeply religious community and many of the families lost entire libraries of holy books, the focal point for Jewish family life. Israel365 presented each family with a beautiful hardcover edition of The Israel Bible.
“The holiday of Shavuot, commemorating the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai is on Sunday,” Rabbi Weisz noted. “No Jewish home should be without a Bible.”
He emphasized that The Israel Bible contained several commentaries by Rabbi Carlebach, the founder of the Moshav.
“Breaking Israel News readers and supporters of Israel365 responded generously to this emergency,” Rabbi Tuly Weisz said. “The families were so appreciative that people, Jews and non-Jews, from all over the world expressed their love in their hour of need.”
Rev. Brimmer emphasized that the aid given to Mevo Modi’im was made possible through a standing supply of emergency funds kept ready for precisely these circumstances.
“It is important for all of Israel to know that there are Christians who care, who want to see Israel blessed,” Rev. Brimmer said. “This is how we will change the future of Jewish-Christian relations and break the cycle of anti-Semitism.”