Monday, February 29, 2016

When Compassion and Love Triumph Over Evil

Sometimes, in your darkest moments, you think you are ready to surrender. You think that evil can actually win and you're ready to pull into yourself and give up. Almost 72 hours ago, evil attempted to defeat goodness.

Evil was a 21-year-old Palestinian who had been given an opportunity to earn wages well above the average income of his friends and neighbors. He landed a permit that allowed him to come into my city every day to work. He was, by all accounts, treated respectfully. Each day he went through a security check to verify his permit and then he was allowed to go to the mall where he worked. Someone told me he regularly had coffee with one of the security guards. He was trusted to remain after most Arabs left, hours after closing.

Well into the night, he worked to prepare the store's offerings for the following day. He did this last Thursday night until, for some reason, he took an axe and found the security guard. He told him he wanted to go outside and as the guard turned to open the locked doors, the Arab struck him from behind. I won't detail the rest of the attack except to say it was particularly brutal and barbaric and we still don't know if the guard, Tzvika Cohen, will survive.

What we do know is that Tzivka is the father of four children, including one that is 8 and one that is 12 and about to become bar mitzvahed in just two weeks. Bar mitzvah is the age when a boy is said to become a man. Weeks before my David's bar mitzvah, his brother went to war for the first time and we learned to live with a fear that is almost unparalleled. Over those weeks, Davidi changed, became a bit more responsible, a bit more attentive. Now Tzvika's son has been forced into a new reality just weeks before he was to have celebrated with his family.

So for the last 72 hours, my city has been in limbo, praying that the Arab would be caught (he was) and more, praying that Tzvika survives and finds his way back to his family, friends, and neighbors. Today, as details of Tzvika's family became widely known, someone called for donations to be made to the family and within hours, over $1,000 (4,000 NIS) was promised and collected..

And then Elie asked about our Book Swap, where we raise money for charity twice a year and suddenly, that's what we scheduled. What normally takes us weeks to do - we are now attempting to put together in just 72 hours. More, we've thrown in a bake sale. All proceeds go to Tzvika's family.

So I posted on Facebook, created Google docs, answered questions, made up details and decisions on the spot and then, I sat back and watched. Without touching my computer, my browser opened to the shared spreadsheet I had opened just a short time before, my eyes filled with tears and I felt completely overwhelmed.

With details, but more with love. Tzvika is in a coma. We pray he will awaken but for now, as he sleeps, more than two dozen people have shown their compassion and their love. Within hours, over 500 books had been pledged; people who live hours away have offered to send books if we can find a way to collect them. They'll even drive an hour north, if we can find someone able to drive south for about an hour.

Cupcakes, brownies, lemon bars, three kinds of cookies, 60 challah rolls and so much more - all promised for Thursday night's bake sale. All posted as I watched the page fill. Suddenly a last name, then a first name, their phone number, the dessert they would offer. Meanwhile, on the other page, a last name, a first name, their phone number, how many books they would donate, and if they can help by volunteering to be a cashier, to sort books, to help with the cleanup. And hours later, I am closing off jobs because so many are filled. Fourteen hours after opening this up to my community, almost all the volunteer jobs are filled; over 35 people have volunteered to bake for the Bake Sale; over 600 books have already been donated (with several people saying they will donate but not specifying an amount).

This is my city, my country, my people, my world.

When darkness fills the world, all you can do is try to bring light back into it. An act of kindness, of compassion. Love and caring have filled my city. Last night, the children took to the streets, singing and holding up signs, "The Nation of Israel Lives" - there can be no evil strong enough to defeat the people of the light, the people of life.

This is my city, my country, my people, my world.

And so, the Book Swap is on - this Wednesday and Thursday night in the Social Hall of the Pnei Shmuel synagogue (Rechov Mitzpe Nevo 102), Maale Adumim starting 6:30 on Wednesday night and 7:30 on Thursday night.

All for Tzvika and his family. Refuah shlayma - may he be granted a full and speedy recovery.

Update: In the end, we organized a Book and Bake Sale and raised a total of 24, 633.50 NIS, which was given to an organization that will focus the entire contribution on helping Tzvika's family. No real update on his condition. He underwent another operation but is still in critical condition. Please pray for Achiya Tzvi ben Batya.


Irwin Blank said...

We are all responsible for each other as the only people that Israel can rely on is her own. May G-d grant a speedy and complete recovery to our brother, Tzvika ben Batya and may the L-rd of Hosts wreak a terrible vengeance on his attacker and all those of his ilk.

sherri said...

May Hashem bless your's and the community's efforts on every level. May Hashem see all the selfless and united efforts and kindness, and not only bring complete refuah to zvi ben batya, but bring us so much closer to the light and reality of our geulah. what a beautiful and inspiring post. Thank you!

Batya Medad said...

Refuah shleimah
what a wonderful community

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