By Zahava Schwartz, 12th grade
On Friday, December 21, the Shalhevet students had the opportunity to hear chief security officer of Hebron, Yoni Bleichbard, discuss the different aspects of his position. The event was spearheaded by Shalhevet’s NCSY JUMP team, Shalhevet Flame, as part of their effort to maintain the connection they established with Hebron during the 2011—2012 academic year. Yoni has become their main contact in Hebron, keeping the Midreshet Shalhevet updated on life in the area and the particular needs of the Hebron community.
In his talk, Yoni explained that, as chief security officer of Hebron, he coordinates the IDF’s defense of the area. Yoni is responsible for Hebron’s civilian emergency response teams as well as Hebron’s medical team. After explaining the details of his position, the Shalhevet students watched two videos on daily life in Hebron. While the Jewish community in Hebron is warm and welcoming, living there is not always quiet and pleasant. Since 2000, the local Palestinians have targeted Jewish civilians.
The Shalhevet girls learned of a deep connection Yoni shares with the school: Yoni was personally involved in the events surrounding the March 2001 Hebron shooting which led to the death of the infant Shalhevet Pass, after whom Midreshet Shalhevet was named. The Shalhevet Flame originally sought their relationship with the Hebron community because of their connection to this event. They were surprised to learn that Yoni was at the scene of the incident and had spent much time trying to revive Shalhevet. Yoni explained that the response of the Jewish community to the death of Shalhevet Pass showed us, “We’re strong. We have complications, but we’re strong.” And to the Shalhevet students, this idea resonates, especially in light of the Jewish response to the recent months’ tragedies. United, the Shalhevet JUMP girls reminded the school at the conclusion of the event, they have the strength to help each other in the face of adversity. v