As Missile Attacks on Israel Intensify, Residents, Municipalities, Turn to Chabad

As Missile Attacks on Israel Intensify, Residents, Municipalities, Turn to Chabad

Photo credit: AP/BBC

by Zalman Nelson - Sderot, Israel

December 31, 2008

( Despite the worst barrage of rockets since the Gaza Operation began, Rabbi Zev Pizem of Sderot is in his office and on the streets, continuing his efforts to support the city’s remaining residents, many elderly, who are stuck at home out of fear, and are now running out of food.

“The municipality keeps calling me with more families who are desperate for food,” said Rabbi Pizem. “Every dollar I get is going directly to buy food, supporting the local merchants who have no customers and feeding scared people. I’m limited by funds, and there are many more families to feed.”

Rabbi Pizem delivers the packages during breaks in the air raid sirens. He told he had received a donation of 300,000 shekels and was frantically preparing food packages for 100 families with all the basic needs to last for several days. While speaking with by phone, rockets rained down in  the distance, this time, said the Rabbi, “with no warning at all.”

Rabbi Pizem works out of the Chabad House, about a half a mile away from his brother Channel’s house which was hit by a rocket on Tuesday. While just about all  other community buildings are closed, the Chabad center remains open where Pizem and a few Chabad volunteers race against time and raining rockets to feed the fearful and hungry remaining residents of Sderot. At this time, no plan is in place for evacuating residents in need of physical assistance.

Pizem’s outreach is so needed in Sderot, that leaving, he admits, “is not even a thought.”

With 230 Chabad centers the length and breadth of Israel, many in the south have become de facto support centers for residents and soldiers.  In Kiryat Malachi, Rabbi Lipa Kurtzvail, led a group of 20 Chabad members to the front lines outside Gaza where armed forces await orders to begin the imminent ground assault. The soldiers were grateful for gifts of food, the appreciation and recognition by Chabad for their dedication to protecting Israel,  and an opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah of tefillin.

Earlier in the day, the city of over 20,000  situated 11 miles east of Ashdod, took its first hits as two rockets fell in a nearby neighborhood. All schools remain closed since the Chanukah holiday and residents are adjusting to the new level of threat.

“We are here and open for help,” said Rabbi Kurtzvail. “We will continue to provide help according to the changing situation and the needs on the ground.”

Rabbi Kurtzvail told that the IDF had expanded their warning zone from 20 to 30 kilometers for rocket attacks, including areas that are further away from Gaza like Kiryat Malachi as well as Beersheva, which sustained its first 3 rocket attacks on Tuesday night. All rockets fell in open areas and no injuries were reported.

In the North, the IDF raised its level of alert out of fear that Palestinian terror groups acting under Hizbullah directives would begin launching rockets into Israel to open another front as the army operates in Gaza.

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