Gaza War

Our communities are strongest working as one


Since the news broke that Hamas infiltrated Israel, people across America have been inquiring about how they can help support Israel. Every Jewish person knows someone directly or indirectly affected by what is happening in Israel.

On Long Island, we are doing what we can to help. People are shopping to buy items for the chayalim, packing them into duffle bags and sending them, by the hundreds, to Israel. Medical kits, tzitzis, toiletries and other much needed items continue to be sent. Local restaurants were offering to drop food off at the airports so soldiers would have enough food while they waited for their flights.

On one of the many WhatsApp groups, someone posted that IDF soldiers who were scheduled to go back to Israel were stranded at a local airport and needed food and places to sleep. Within minutes, total strangers, members of the Five Towns community, offered to host them, arranging rides from the airport and back and anything else they might need.

Here’s an example of how kind people truly are. This happened in our community just the other day.

A woman from North Woodmere walked into Play It Again Sports in Oceanside and bought all of their headlamps. She then asked the owner if there were more in the back of the store. The owner said yes and went to get them.

When she was ready to pay, Steve Pitonza, one of the owners, asked what the headlamps were for and why she need so many. The woman replied, “to send to the soldiers in Israel.”

Steve’s response “Take them for free — it’s on us.”

Steve is not Jewish, but he stands with Israel and its people. It’s really touching.

People in the thousands have come together at rallies and they’ve gathered in synagogues to say prayers; across the Five Towns, at a different synagogue each night, people come to recite tehillim.

Another thing that was organized by the synagogues was having the community write letters to President Biden thanking him for his unwavering support for Israel. Rabbis Sholom Axelrod and Shay Schachter of the Young Israel of Woodmere and a group of local school children were set to go to the White House on Wednesday to hand-deliver the letters. Showing our gratitude is very important as the United States supplies vital equipment for Israel to continue fighting.

Many of the people you see in synagogue have sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, grandsons and granddaughters, nieces and nephews — some may even have spouses — who are currently fighting.

We are stronger together and no matter what, that’s important. We fight together, we support together, and we are united.

May Hashem protect all of our soldiers and may they all return home soon.