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Posts Tagged ‘volunteers’

Birth Under Fire with Israel’s Doulas

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Throughout the country, thousands of reservists have been called to the border with Gaza. These men left behind wives, mothers, children and friends. Some have had to say good-bye to their pregnant wives; whether in the first stages of their pregnancy or approaching their due-dates.

For some, the constant threat of rocket fire doesn’t matter. For the doulas of the Israel, there is work to be done. A professional doula is certified to assist at natural births. The doula, unlike a midwife, begins working with the expecting mother long before the birth, and accompanies her during and after the birth, offering both physical and emotional support.

Israeli doulas have formed a group of volunteers who are offering their services free of charge to the residents of the south, women whose husbands have been called to the reserves and any pregnant woman feeling distress due to the security situation. The doulas are divided into smaller groups, based on their residence, and offer immediate support to expecting mothers all over the south. These services include meetings in which the doula visits her client’s home and performs services such as reflexology, massages, and shiatsu. In addition, women who wish to consult a doula can do so via their Facebook group called “Women Supporting Women- Operation Pillar of Defense.”

Doulas at doulas-only tea party.

Doulas at doulas-only tea party.

This group of dedicated volunteers was established by Ravit Stern-Ginat, 33, who has nine years of experience working as a doula. Ravit lives in Alfei Menashe, a community in Samaria. The idea to establish the group came to her when she saw a picture of a pregnant woman hugging her husband as he departed for the reserves. Her immediate thought was that she finally found a way to help. ”Whether before, during or after the pregnancy, being a new mother is no easy task”, Ravit told Tazpit News Agency. “Especially for those who no longer have the support of their significant other. I wanted to help them.”

Ravit turned to her friends and fellow doulas, and their response was, “of course.” Thus began the Facebook group “Women Supporting Women—Operation Pillar of Defense,” currently numbering 1,347. Members of the group include professional doulas, women seeking advice in pregnancy related matters, and some who just seek moral support. Ravit was amazed by the success of the “operation” and at the positive results, just two days after she first thought of the idea. Besides the ever-growing Facebook group, companies have contacted her to offer free gifts for the mothers under her care.

Ravit’s goal is to reach as many women as possible to ensure that they receive the help and support they need. She was interviewed by Israel TV Channel 1. They were impressed by the initiative and the readiness of the volunteers. “We’re making a lot of noise so that we can help as many as possible. We want to help; this is the purpose of our job”, Ravit said.

Yifat and Orly are two of the hundreds of volunteers. Yifat Hovev, 26, mother of three, is living in Jerusalem. She heard of Ravit’s group and loved the idea. To her, this is proof that “we, the Israelis, are all brothers. This is the least we can do.” Yifat’s husband has not been called into the reserves yet, but has been told to be on standby. If he is called, Yifat will continue providing the support.

Orly Kalush, mother of ten and grandmother of four, has dreamt of being a doula since giving birth to her first child. She lives in Maon, a small community south of Hebron. When she saw Ravit’s Facebook page calling for volunteers, she joined immediately. “We are ready to give support everywhere, all areas are covered.” Orly has not yet had the chance to care for an expecting mother affected by the situation in the south. She explains: ”There are just too many doulas who signed on to help!”

Too Many IDF Reservists

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

While the IDF has authorized the call up of up to 75,000 reservists, over 100,000 reservists have asked to serve in Operation Amud Anan.

The telephones in the IDF Reserve Center are ringing off the hook, and the soldiers manning phones are trying to explain to the reservist volunteers that the IDF has enough soldiers right now.

Likud Anglo Candidate Suspends Campaign in Solidarity with IDF and Southern Residents

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Likud Knesset Candidate Daniel Tauber declared a suspension of campaign activities in solidarity with the residents of the South and the IDF.

Tauber also said he would request that the Likud delay the date of primaries, currently scheduled for November 25th, saying that, “Campaigns should not be brought to fever pitch as our soldiers are risking their lives fighting our enemies and residents of the South are forced to hide in fear.”

In a letter to supporters, Tauber called for the elimination of “Hamas and any other terrorist group operating within the Land of Israel or on our borders” arguing that, “As long as terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah continue to operate with impunity millions of our citizens will be under threat and Israel will be constraining geopolitically.”

On Thursday evening, Tauber instructed his campaign volunteers to stop contacting Likud members until Sunday evening, when the situation could be reviewed and the campaign could determine how to proceed in an appropriate manner.

Tauber ended his letter with the prayer “that justice is meted out to Hamas and all the enemies of the Jewish people.”

Tauber is also executive-director of Likud Anglos and has in the past urged Likud Members of Knesset and Minister not to be restrained in pursuing terrorists out of fear of international pressure.

It’s My Opinion: A Place To Mourn

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Eighteen-year-old University of Florida student Christian Aguilar went missing on September 20. His frantic parents, Carlos and Claudia Aguilar, came to the college campus in Gainesville to search for their son. They held daily press conferences and begged for help. They handed out flyers. They organized vigils. Hundreds of law enforcement professionals, as well as volunteers from every background, were prompted to join in the effort.

The prognosis seemed grim. Another boy, Pedro Bravo, who had known Aguilar from high school in Miami, disclosed some very disturbing information. Bravo confessed to having had a fight with Aguilar. He said he beat his friend unconscious and dumped him out of his car.

Hopes for finding Aguilar dimmed as the weeks went by. The area Bravo had shown authorities yielded no sign of the missing young man. Police found blood in Bravo’s car and backpack. They found a receipt for the purchase of a shovel and duct tape. As time passed, the parents who originally had hoped to find their son now sadly realized that he probably had died.

It was quite possible that Aguilar’s body would never be found. There would be no burial, no accounting, no chance of any type of closure. The thought was excruciating.

Last week Christian Aguilar’s body was found in a private hunting club more than an hour away from the vicinity of the search. Identification was confirmed by dental records. Carlos called the find a “miracle.” He said the discovery would “give honor” to his son. Carlos and Claudia Aguilar could now bury their child and hopefully find some comfort and solace in this horrific tragedy.

There is something very poignant about the societal norm of burial and the marking of a gravesite. A human being who lived on this earth deserves to be interred with a certain dignity. Those who remain behind benefit from having a place to mourn and mark the final resting place of a departed loved one.

One of the most heartrending aspects of the Shoah is the fact that the mass graves and ashes of the crematoria have disallowed this basic human need. The Nazis tossed out the slaughtered victims as garbage. It was their final dehumanizing action.

Jewish tradition deals with the importance of burial in the Tanach. The cave of Machpeilah, purchased to bury our matriarch Sarah and the grave purchased to bury our matriarch Rachel are important parts of our history. The final act of chesed Hashem performed in the Torah was the burial of Moses. The lessons, of course, are for all time.

The Aguilar family will be able to bury their son and know where he lies. They will be able to visit his grave, grieve and process the tragedy. The survivors of the six million were deprived of this opportunity. This is a reason why the Jewish world is dedicated to building Holocaust museums and shrines.

Tomchei Shabbos Of Miami Serves Needy Families

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Tomchei Shabbos of Miami was founded in 2009 by students of Rabbi Friedberg of North Miami Beach. Every Friday the organization distributes kosher food to more than seventy families throughout South Florida. Tomchei Shabbos means “supporters of the Sabbath” and that is just what the organization does.

Preparing Tomchei Shabbos packages.

Tomchei Shabbos believes in helping the Jewish needy without making them feel needy. There is 100 percent confidentiality for recipients. The nonprofit organization is unique. All donations go directly toward the cause. There are no salaries. All work is done by volunteers.

Donations are needed of food, money, toys, etc. Volunteers are needed who can give time for packing and delivering. All packages are put together on Thursdays in a warehouse and delivered to families in need on Friday.

For more information visit tomcheishabbosofmiami.org, call 305-773-2033, or e-mail tomcheishabbosofmiami@hotmail.com to refer a family in need or to offer a donation.

Local Officers Take Initiative to Save lives on the Road

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

The phenomenon of tired drivers is common and very dangerous, especially on Lag Ba’Omer, when thousands of people return from an all-night event at the grave site of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai at Meron in Northern Israel.

To properly combat this problem, police officers from the Jordan Valley region, in conjunction with volunteers and the local municipality, have initiated a stop-over refreshment station on one of the main routes from Meron. The aim is to identify tired drivers and enable them to freshen up. They are offered beverages and light refreshments, a place to rest, wipes to cool themselves and various materials on safe driving. The station is open throughout the day.

This is the second year the station is operating. It has great significance when looking back at previous accidents that occurred on Lag Ba’Omer, especially the one in 2009 in which five passengers were killed in a head-on collision with a bus. It is assumed that the driver fell asleep on the way back from Meron.

The police officers volunteered to run this station to minimize such occurrences. Chezi, one of the volunteers on site, told Tazpit News Agency that thousands of cars come through the check point, and all drivers are invited to pull over and freshen up; the drivers admit that they are fatigued to the point that they are practically sleeping at the wheel. He told of one incident in which a driver was basically asleep, but refused to pull over. His wife, sitting in the back seat, began to shout at him, accusing him of driving as if he was inebriated. He finally agreed to stop for a rest, and that may have prevented another accident, saving lives.

“This is not the first year the station is active”, Chezi said, “The drivers are used to finding us here on Lag Ba’Omer. Last year we were successful in completely preventing car accidents on this route, and we hope to be successful this year as well. It’s important for the police officers that drivers maintain their well-being”.

1948 Israel War of Independence Overseas Heroes Honoured by Museum of the Diaspora

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People will be opening a special exhibition to honour the volunteers who made an invaluable contribution towards winning the 1948-49 War of Independence and helped to lay the foundations of the Israel Defense Forces

Many elderly World War II veterans will be making a special journey to Israel to participate in this prestigious honour in the presence of state and military dignitaries, as well as ambassadors and military attaches.

Known as MACHAL (Mitnadvei chutz l’Aretz) which translates as volunteers from abroad, over 4,500 men and women, Jews and non Jews, from 58 countries rallied to Israel’s aid in her struggle against the invasion of 6 well-armed Arab nations.

By July 1948 it looked like the war might be lost. 70% of Israel had been occupied by the invading Arab armies. The Egyptians were 20 miles from Tel Aviv. Without the MACHAL pilots and air crews in their fighter and bomber aircraft, the outcome of the war might have been very different.

In the face of a United Nations embargo on the export of military equipment to Israel, the Machal volunteers were also instrumental in smuggling desperately needed planes and equipment into Israel.

The War of Independence was Israel’s longest, costliest, and most fateful war. 6,300 civilians and military personnel were killed (1% of the entire Jewish population of Palestine). 123 Machalniks (119 men and 4 women) lost their lives.

72nd Command Battalion of Machalniks

The late Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Yitzhak Rabin stated: “You came to us when we needed you most, during those hard and uncertain days in our War of Independence. You gave us not only your experience, but your lives as well. The People of Israel and the State of Israel will never forget, and will always cherish this unique contribution made by you – the volunteers of Machal”.

Prime Minister Ben Gurion said: “The Machal Forces were the Diaspora’s most important contribution to the survival of the State of Israel”.

In 1993 Stanley Medicks, co-ordinator of the British and European Machal Association and fellow Machal comrades raised the funds for a memorial to be built in Israel in memory of the 123 Machalniks who gave their lives.

http://www.machal.org.il/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=302&Itemid=357&lang=en

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/features/feautures-on-jewish-world/1948-israel-war-of-independence-overseas-heroes-honoured-by-museum-of-the-diaspora/2012/05/08/

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