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Update: Rockets in the south, Relief in Tzfat

As a follow up to our previous message on the current conflict and Livnot’s offer for accommodations, and request for help to keep our doors open to residents of southern and central Israel who are under constant threat of attack, we bring you the follow update from our Founder and Executive Director, Aharon Botzer:

Dear Friends,

Our prayers are joined with those of ALL Am Yisrael as we beseech the Al-Mighty for His protection on our people and our brave soldiers.  May they all return home safely to their homes.

A couple of weeks ago when missiles began falling on residents of the South, we opened up our Campus dorm rooms to accommodate families hoping to escape this terror. Meanwhile, the participants on our two programs were being housed in our annex building, the Blue Khan.

Among those who responded to our offer, were a few alumni and their families, living under the rain of missiles. They came to us to spend a quiet peaceful Shabbat, where the only (‘all clear’) siren they heard was that which ushers in the Shabbat.  Their words of gratitude appear below:

Aharon,

Your invitation to come to Tzfat for a respite from the sirens, Iron Dome booms and constant F-16’s flying overhead was too good of an offer and we were very grateful for the opportunity!  It has been 3 years too long since we last came to Tzfat. However, the beautiful energy of the chevre, the families and the Baat Sherut’s are a reminder of where we came from and how much work there still is to do…Livnot should always be blessed to continuing to change people’s lives by opening them up to the beauty of Judaism!

Blessings and Love, J. A. and FamilyRelief in Tzfat

Another: 

I live in Ashqelon with my husband and 18 month-old son. I made aliyah 3 years ago this summer. Ashqelon is beautiful and quiet most of the time but as you know, not so much lately. We’ve been toughing it out but at around day 7, it started to really get to me and we decided to take Livnot up on their offer for a holiday from the war. I am Livnot past chevre so it always feels like going home when I’m able to get up to Tzfat. It meant so much to my family to have a safe and quiet place to go during this unrest if only for a few days…It was a peaceful shabbat which we needed so badly. Just the cooler mountain air made us feel better. Thank you.

S. and family

And yet another:

Dear Aharon and Miriam,

I want to thank you so much for the opportunity to come to Zefat, to come “home” to Livnot for a welcome break from the rocket fire.  It was so heartwarming to see your offer from Livnot to past chevre and to people from the south in general to get away for a while from the sirens and the bombs. When we arrived we met families from Ashkelon and near Kiryat Malachi, who also were so grateful to have a few days of quiet without running to shelters.  There were families with lots of children, what a nice change it made for them and how wonderful that Livnot could offer them the facilities to make themselves at home.

It’s been many years since I spent a Shabbat in Zefat and it was especially meaningful to stand on the roof with the chevre of the current Livnot program and welcome in Shabbat with music and dance looking over the amazing, beautiful view of Zefat and Har Meron.  As I intertwined my arms with those young, inspired Americans (and maybe from other places), my mind went back to 34 years ago when I started my spiritual journey here in this very place and it traveled through all the years since then.  Everyone was so friendly to me and inclusive and I felt their excitement at what they were experiencing.  Some had friends visiting specifically to spend Shabbat, as they’d heard how great it is in Livnot on Shabbat.  At Friday night dinner, even those who were visiting just for Shabbat overcame their shyness and joined in the singing and activities and were happily participating.  There was so much joy and spirit.  Shlomo and the madricha, Rachel did a wonderful job weaving in meaning to the Shabbat rituals, kiddush and washing hands.  It certainly wasn’t just a nice meal (which it was), but one to convey the idea of Shabbat.  It made me want to make more effort during our Shabbat meals at home, which sometimes become routine out of habit.  I was impressed how Shlomo and Rachel were also very supportive of the chevre, encouraging them to give divrei Torah, which they did.  Even with their limited knowledge of Judaism they could talk about something Jewish relating to values they could identify with.  What was clear was that being Jewish was fun!  It was very inspiring for me too.

It was also really nice to meet another woman (from bombarded Ashkelon) with her young family who’d been on the program in 2005.  The campus of Livnot has grown so much, it took me quite a while to find my way around!  Thanks for showing us the excavation of the “Kahal.”  It was so interesting to go down into the area you’ve dug out and see down to a mikveh and where there was a bakery.  What an exciting project!

Thank you again for welcoming us into your home and into Livnot (and giving us a respite from rockets).  Hope it won’t be so long till we visit again and that it will be peaceful in Israel!

R. and M.

Relief in Tzfat IICurrently, the campus is filled with other Israeli families from the South, whose only wish is to seek shelter and protect their children. They have no connection whatsoever to Livnot.  They are paying only a token charge for their linens and room cleaning.

In the merits of this Chessed endeavor, may peace and tranquility reign in our region. Your support is always welcome.

Aharon

Shayna
Shayna Rehberg
shayna@livnot.org

Shayna Rehberg straddles the Gen X/Millennial divide in Tzfat with her four unique and creative children as an ‘unlabeled’ Jew. In all her spare time she also enjoys music, photography, blogging, collecting knives and teacups, swapping stories, and shopping in the shuk.