It’s always a blessing to visit Israel – even a greater one when your kids come along. Of course, once the family has been to Israel a number of times and all the best sites have been seen and the most important holy places and kevarim visited, what do you do with your family?
I have a meaningful solution. I’ll tell you what we – my wife, Jodi, our thirteen-year-old daughter Yael, and I – did on our recent trip to Israel.
A shul buddy, Duvie Kramer, told me about Rebbetzin Liora Tedgi, a wonderful woman and a direct descendant of the Ben Ish Chai, who runs a terror-victim support group.
We called Liora and she invited us to come over to her compound in the Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood of Jerusalem on a Thursday at 10 a.m. She told us that volunteers would be there to help distribute some items to terror victims and their families. When we arrived we saw a huge, organized, clean and focused effort to package more than four hundred Shabbat care packages to those who needed them. Some folks picked up the package of food themselves. For those incapable of doing so, Liora had prepared a truck to deliver the packages.
The Reznik team joined dozens of volunteers assembling packages. After we went through a quick basic training we were given gloves along with instructions about how the beautiful challahs were to be packed. We joined a lovely English couple who had made aliyah; they told us that they had been volunteering for Liora every Thursday for years and it was the highlight of their week.
We spent an hour there. Yael told us that other than visiting the Kotel, Kever Rachel, Me’aras HaMachpelah and the shuk on Friday, this was the highlight of her trip.
We Jews apparently think of Israel as a place to charge our spiritual batteries, daven, visit holy places and give charity – but not necessarily as a place to book some chesed hours. But we felt so good, so part of the team – it’s a feeling you don’t get just from being a good tourist.
Why did Liora Tedgi start this effort? She was a victim herself. I don’t feel comfortable telling her story, especially since I know that when you visit the center she will tell it to you herself. I can report what she told Yaeli after sharing her story and showing us a tough video:
“In life things happen – sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes very bad; you have a choice to let the negative circumstances win and control you or you can rely on your faith and be positive, contributing to society by being part of the solution.”
Ohr Meir U’Bracha Terror Victims Support Center is located at 3/1 Yakim Street. When you return from Israel and a visit with Liora, let me know what you think at Jeff@jreznikstudios.com.