The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (Keren L’Yedidut) has quickly mobilized to raise more than 1 million shekel in emergency assistance for residents of Mevo Modi’im, a small moshav located west of Jerusalem and near the Israeli city of Modi’in. The moshav sustained a massive fire last Thursday that destroyed at least 40 out of the community’s 50 homes.
From the NIS 1 million, the Fellowship will be providing up to $5,000 in assistance for each family of Mevo Modi’im. The amount distributed in each case will be determined and prioritized according to a number of factors and criteria provided to the Fellowship by relevant authorities. At the same time, the Fellowship is in constant communication with the National Emergency Authority, Israel Fire and Rescue Services, as well as the Hatzalah emergency response organization to ensure that assistance gets provided as quickly as possible.
The fire, one of many around Israel, which ignited on Thursday with sweltering temperatures rising above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, was large enough to have damaged some 7,940 dunams of land belonging to Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael – Jewish National Fund. Originally assumed to have been caused by faulty electrical wiring, the fire is now being investigated as a possible incident of arson.
Mevo Modi’im was founded by the late famed Jewish singer and composer Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Known as “The Singing Rabbi” during his lifetime for his many unique, original tunes and styles of prayer, Rabbi Carlebach inspired many, some of whom followed him to Mevo Modi’im.
“Every Sabbath eve, the men of the moshav would come to our house,” Rabbi Carlebach’s daughter Dari said, standing in her father’s old home with the Fellowship’s president, Yael Eckstein by her side. “My father had a special perfume, which everyone said was special, that he would spray each one of them with for the Sabbath. On Sabbath morning, the guys would be in the kitchen eating and drinking coffee, sharing words of Torah. Even at three in the morning, people would stop by the home to consult and speak with my father.”
Unsurprisingly, the moshav’s residents followed in Rabbi Carlebach’s footsteps. “There’s no one like the people of Mevo Modi’im,” Dari continued. “They do not have a lot of money but their houses are open for guests all the time. Now they need a lot of help. Many are left with nothing but the clothes on their bodies. Their money has been burnt along with all their property.”
Nevertheless, Dari remains determined that Mevo Modi’im will overcome the destruction: “My father said that fire can destroy and kill, but one’s internal fire cannot be extinguished. I know that the internal fire has not been ‘burned’ and that this moshav will once again thrive because the nation of Israel is very strong. It is impossible to burn the heart that dwells inside the collective soul of the moshav.”
The Fellowship’s president, Yael Eckstein, conveyed the Fellowship’s determination to help Mevo Modi’im rebuild. “For the past 13 years, the Fellowship has been a central hub for assisting citizens in times of emergency. We are continuing to assume that role in this regard by providing the residents of Mevo Modi’im with over NIS 1 million that we have raised already. The Jewish community immediately turned to the Fellowship to provide the emergency aid in light of our track record in responding to every other emergency in Israel, including our prior donation of eight fire trucks and basic needs to victims in previous fires.”
Eckstein added, “We would also be remiss not to thank our Christian friends and lovers of Israel from around the world who provided matching funds. During times like this one can see who is there to respond immediately, not only from the Jewish community but from millions of Christians around the world.”