AN EYEWITNESS REPORT FROM ISRAEL: HOW FUNDS RAISED BY A FAIRFIELD SYNAGOGUE ARE EASING THE PLIGHT OF DISPLACED FAMILIES
Note to Media: The following letter was sent to the Orthodox Union by Terry Augenbraun of Fairfield, an OU Vice President, after he received it from his son-in-law, Benji Hain, who is now in Israel with his wife, Fara. Benji reports on the results of how funds raised by Ahavat Achim Congregation, an OU synagogue in Fairfield, have been used to ease the plight of people in Israel whose lives have been disrupted by the war. The help was greatly needed. As Benji wrote, “Some of the families that we've taken in are coming straight from the bomb shelters in the North, while others have been wandering around from place to place for weeks.”
His letter is as follows.
Hi Mom and Dad,
Thank you for the donation to help the displaced people from the North. If you could, please forward the following to all those in Fairfield who also contributed.
Thank you members of Congregation Ahavat Achim for your generous contributions to help the displaced people from the North during the war. Your help has really made a concrete difference in their lives.
What we are doing here in Ra'anana is taking old, empty houses, sprucing them up, outfitting them with whatever a family would need, and housing people there, feeding them, and basically helping in any way that we can. Everyone in town is chipping in, from the local gardener, air-conditioner repairman, and mover (who is constantly lugging refrigerators and other appliances to the houses without taking a fee), to all those who are donating bedding, mattresses, appliances, cookware, and many other items.
Some of the families that we've taken in are coming straight from the bomb shelters in the North, while others have been wandering around from place to place for weeks. Several families' homes have been damaged or destroyed by the rockets and almost all are having financial difficulties. For each of the families this is a great opportunity to finally find some safety, stability and a warm communal embrace. I cannot describe how appreciative they are, and several have burst into tears in relief upon finally finding a place that they can call home for the duration of the war. So far, we're running nine houses with an average of about fifteen people in each.
Here is what we did with the Ahavat Achim contribution:
1. We have sent several of the children to a local day camp, which they are enjoying immensely.
2. We were able to get our latest house hooked up with electricity (at a steep discount provided by the electric company).
3. We have taken half of the families (so far) out to dinner at a local restaurant, including a family whose son joined the army the next day, and for whom we had the restaurant make a special party.
4. We bought several crucial household items that we were not able to find among all of the items that people here have lent.
In short, you have really helped these people, and when I told them about how the good people of Fairfield, Conn. were responsible for getting them out to a nice restaurant for a good dinner and a chance to forget about their troubles for a little while, they asked me to let you all know how truly thankful they are. Tizku lemitsvot! (You should aspire to good deeds!)
All the best,