To search for the definition of “miracle”–a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings welcome consequences–you would look in a dictionary. To witness the manifestation of a miracle, you would look to Israel.
One of the greatest modern miracles for those who care to acknowledge it, Israel continues to be an amazing miracle every day–indeed, every hour. Many of the residents of Israel, especially those who are instrumental in maintaining this great miracle, acknowledge that it is only due to its ongoing Divine protection that the country is able to thrive. The late Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion was quoted as saying, “In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.”
If the lifeblood of a person lies in his heart, then the lifeblood of a people lies in its heartland. In Israel, that heartland is Judea and Samaria–YESHA. The history of our people, birth, and roots began within these ancient places. Our greatest leaders–Yehoshua, David HaMelech, and even the Avot themselves–spent much of their storied lives treading upon these worn stones.
YESHA also represents our eternal and nonnegotiable claim to the entirety of Israel. This is where it all began, this is where it flourished, and this is where it will continue forever. In 1967, when the courageous soldiers of the IDF recaptured Judea and Samaria, the area was a skeleton of its former self. Once-beautiful towns were decimated by centuries of Arab rule.
Now, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the reclamation of YESHA, and it can only be described as a miracle. People said it wasn’t possible to overcome the intense international pressure against the so-called settlements. The “enlightened world” said that it was impossible to build cohesive communities. They also claimed that no one in their right mind would want to live in such far-flung towns, within a stone’s throw of Arab villages.
The naysayers had much to say, but the visionaries forged ahead. Who could have dreamed that within two generations the Jewish population would explode from a mere 20,000 in 1968 to nearly 450,000 in 2017? Who could have dreamed of the vibrant towns that dot the landscape of YESHA? From Itamar and Elon Moreh in the north to Hebron and Sussya in the south, one encounters a special air of strength and vitality when entering these pioneering communities.
One Israel Fund was founded 23 years ago as an antidote to the Oslo accords. At the time, a few heroic people set out to form a grassroots effort to provide these communities the humanitarian aid necessary to remain safe and secure while also providing a quality of life similar to that throughout the remainder of the country.
It was a bold plan which seemed impossible at the time, but decades later it has proven to be a brilliant strategy. Even the original planners could not have dreamed of what YESHA has become.
We now proudly mark the 50th year since reclamation and celebrate the miracle that is YESHA. One Israel Fund shares this momentous occasion with the thousands of people who generously supported this cause. OIF ignored the opposition and those who claimed that its mission could not be successful. Instead, with vision and foresight, the organizers built community centers, playgrounds, schools, and synagogues for fledgling villages, secured security cameras and vehicles for new yishuvim, and provided a host of other essential resources so that the barren hilltops could once again be teeming with Jewish life.
As we continue the celebration of this yovel (50th anniversary), there is no couple more deserving of recognition than Steven and Susan Orlow. For the past 23 years, the Orlows have stood as two of the most stalwart supporters of everything Israel. As One Israel Fund’s founding president, Steve has been a veritable ambassador of Judea and Samaria. Through myriad efforts, he and Susan have made an incredible, unforgettable, and eternal impact on the future of Israel. In the 23 years of One Israel Fund’s existence, there is not a single project which was not directly or indirectly impacted by the Orlows. The incredible growth of YESHA is due, in no small part, to Steve and Susan Orlow, and OIF is proud to honor them at this year’s momentous dinner.
Two additional couples will be recognized this year for their efforts on behalf of One Israel Fund and YESHA as well. In a very short time, Martin and Zena Cohen of Manhattan and Atlantic Beach have quickly become indispensable for their support of numerous projects. Today, there is a new playground in Mitzpe Dani and a soon-to-be completed mikveh in Na’ale thanks to the efforts of Marty and Zena. Marty and Zena will accept the Bonei Yisrael (Builders of Israel) Award at the upcoming dinner. The Manhigut Tze’erim (Young Leadership) Awardees are Bentzy and Rena Chill of North Woodmere. Everyone involved in the young leadership events know the Chills as a powerhouse couple who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the next generation of support for One Israel Fund.
At this year’s dinner, OIF will host a special sefer Torah inscription ceremony in memory of Yaakov, Chaya, and Elad Salomon. The Salomons were brutally murdered by Arab terrorists as they sat at their Shabbat table in Neve Tzuf celebrating the birth of a new boy in the family. The Torah, generously dedicated by anonymous friends of One Israel Fund, will be presented to the town of Neve Tzuf, where it will serve as a fitting memorial to the Salomons. One Israel Fund is honored to take part in this poignant project and share it with all those at the dinner. Everyone in attendance will be given an opportunity to write a letter (time permitting).
Please join as One Israel Fund Celebrates the Miracle on November 19 at Terrace on the Park in Queens. If you cannot attend, demonstrate your support in the commemorative dinner journal. It is a most meaningful and effective way to make your own impact on Israel’s future. To register or place an ad, please visit OneIsraelFund.org/dinner or call 516-239-9202, ext. 19.