UPDATE OF OU DIARY: AN ESTEEMED AMERICAN RABBI GIVES AN EYEWITNESS REPORT ON ISRAEL AT WAR: ‘THE HARDEST THING IS SEEING THE PEOPLE’
This is an update of the diary of Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, the Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union.
Friday, August 11 — It is Friday morning. It is growing more and more apparent that we are facing a refugee problem of major proportions. The rocket attacks on Jewish communities such as Nahariya, Maalot, Kiryat Shemoneh, Tzefat, Tiberias, Hazor and Haifa have made it impossible to live there. Only the very brave or totally helpless are left behind.
Communities throughout the rest of the country are taking in refugees. A tent city has sprung up supported by a noble philanthropist. I am getting appeals from rabbis of small communities for funds for food for Shabbos. From the media that I see and read, the picture of the devastation of the North and the plight of what is probably half a million refugees is not being reported. The war itself and the politics around it dominate even local media, and the physical damage and human suffering is not adequately described.
I urge people in the United States not to waste their time and energies on political discussions and military second-guessing, but to focus on what can be done to help. As I see it, that means prayer; good deeds, especially good deeds on behalf of our fellow men, women and children; expressing gratitude and giving encouragement to President Bush; supporting charity efforts which offer direct succor to relief efforts here; and doing everything possible to increase Israeli morale.
Orthodox Union Executive Vice President Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb arrived in Israel Monday, leading a mission of OU leaders who came to observe the many activities of the Seymour J. Abrams OU Jerusalem World Center in assisting the population during a time of war. Most notable among these programs has been the dispatch of 700 volunteers, at great personal risk, to the North to bring comfort to those spending their lives in bomb shelters. These activities include games and toys to occupy the children in the shelters and are made possible, in great part, through money raised by the OU’s Israel Emergency Fund.
Rabbi Weinreb has been sending back emotional reports of the group’s travels every day since arrival. Excerpts follow of his eyewitness observations of a nation at war and how the OU is bringing aid and comfort to its people.