By Tammy Mark
On the evening of September 4, Lynn and Joel Mael opened their Lawrence home to host the One Israel Fund 5th Annual South Shore Barbecue. The event featured a variety of fine Israeli wines and a lavish buffet catered by Mauzone. As guests enjoyed one of the last nights of summer, they were all there for a single purpose, to show support for the vital work of One Israel Fund.
Originally formed to help residents of the Judea and Samaria region, One Israel Fund expanded its efforts during the recent Operation Protective Edge to raise urgently needed funds for preventive security and emergency medical equipment in the southern communities on the Gaza border, and to extend that help to other areas coming under similar threat. One Israel Fund’s team spent the summer providing this necessary support to these vulnerable communities.
Executive Vice-President Scott Feltman opened the evening’s program by welcoming former UN Ambassador John Bolton to the podium. “The relations between the U.S. and Israel may seem strained governmentally, but the people are closer than ever,” Ambassador Bolton declared, and joked that he is often called a “Lutheran Zionist.” “The enthusiasm of the American people for Israel is so widespread,” he continued. “The strongest supporters of Israel are the people of the U.S., and not just the Jewish people. The support has not diminished–it has increased.”
Other notable supporters in attendance were congressional candidate Kathleen Rice and New York State Assembly nominee Todd Kaminsky. Congressional candidate Bruce Blakeman highlighted his personal connection to the Jewish state by proudly professing, “I proposed in Jerusalem to my girlfriend, Segal.”
As Feltman returned to introduce the video, he was pained to say that the situation in Israel now was reminiscent of Operation Cast Lead in 2008—2009. The video included powerful images with home footage of Israeli families running for cover upon hearing a Code Red siren. The jarring scenes of men, women, children, babies, and the elderly all in a state of chaos gave the viewers a glimpse of the harsh reality of living every day under the threat of missiles.
The most poignant speaker of the evening was Marc Prowisor, One Israel Fund’s director of security projects and “man on the ground.” Prowisor spent the summer providing aid to the Gaza border communities and shared his experiences of this most difficult summer.
Upon visiting the southern Gaza communities, Prowisor was amazed by what was lacking and that nobody else was going there to give them the support they needed. These were mainly left-wing kibbutzim. “This is not Yehudah and Shomron, so why are they being neglected?” he questioned. “Nobody comes to us, only you guys,” they told him.
The One Israel Fund team got to work and provided additional security equipment to the ravshatzim–the community security chiefs that are liaisons to the IDF. A former ravshatz himself, Prowisor knew they needed to start with basic medical supplies and equipment. Within the first week of helping, Prowisor got a call that a life was saved due to the new provisions.
The work done by One Israel Fund definitely made a tangible difference to the communities, but equally important was the feeling that they broke down borders and helped the people of Israel feel united. “There is no Green Line,” says Prowisor.
Over the summer, close to $300,000 in supplies were given by One Israel Fund to help the civilian security near the Gaza border. There is still more that could be done, and coming in late costs lives.
Prowisor recalled the gap in the security system in the town of Itamar before the vicious attack on the Fogel family occurred in 2011. One Israel Fund was called to help improve the security there, but the funds were not available to implement the necessary preventive measures.
Prowisor emphasized the urgency of being proactive and doing the work before the terror comes. “Let’s live the future now. There’s a great achdut happening,” he said. “We can make a miracle. It was a very hard summer, but we can use the fear for good.”
Prowisor concluded, “The quiet now during the cease-fire is a time to be readying. We can make a change that affects all our people. We are all One Israel.”
The program closed with Feltman expressing the deepest gratitude to the Maels on behalf of the organization and presenting them with a Pirkei Avot in recognition of their support.