Friday, January 09, 2009


(Sderot, Israel) — Israeli warplanes continued to pound Hamas targets in Gaza today as Hamas fired 30 rockets at Israel. Three of those rockets hit the town of Sderot just before I arrived to participate in a relief project that The Joshua Fund helped finance. By the grace of God, no Israelis were killed as a result of any of the rocket attacks, though several were wounded. Separately, three Israeli soldiers died during fighting deep inside Gaza today.

It was an incredible honor to work with several dozen Jews and evangelical Christians to bless the poor and needy and victims of war and terror just a kilometer or two from the Gaza border at any given moment. Together, we met at about 10:30am and assembled bags of hot meals (chicken, rice, and steamed vegetables, along with several loaves of bread); bags of dry food goods (such as milk, cooking oil, noodles, tunafish, and chocolate wafer cookies); and bags of toiletries (such hand soap, shampoo, body wash, toothbrushes, cleaning wipes, and facial tissues) for needy Israeli families, mostly elderly folks. We also assembled bags of toys, games, coloring books and trading cards for the children who remain in Sderot because their families don’t have enough money to evacuate them.

Then, after a lengthy security briefing telling us what to do if we are caught in the middle of a missile strike, we fanned out across the town to deliver these “bags of blessing” to lists of pre-selected families, all of whom live under the poverty level. Some were native Hebrew-speaking Israelis. Some were Ethiopian immigrants. Most were Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants from Russia and the former Soviet republics. To say that those we met and delivered the food and supplies to were deeply grateful doesn’t even begin to capture the story. Some had tears in their eyes. Most were simply stunned that we had come as no one told them that they were going to be recipients today of such gifts. All of the elderly folks and families I had the privilege of visiting today eagerly invited my Jewish and evangelical colleagues into their flats. They wanted to sit and talk. They wanted to know why in the world we had come from all over Israel — and all over the world — to bless them. They also wanted to talk about what it’s like to live under a near-constant barrage of rockets, missiles and mortars. And we were eager to listen.

All told, about 150 Israeli families in Sderot were blessed today. The project was organized by the Israel Leadership Institute which is run by Eeki Elner, a leadership trainer and social activist who lives in Sderot, and the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, which is run by Calev Myers, a partner in one of the leading law firms in Israel. Several organizations helped finance the project and provide volunteers. Last week, The Joshua Fund paid for all the hot meals that were distributed. This week, we paid for all of the bags of dry food goods that were distributed, all of which were purchased from a local supermarket to help bless the beleagured, war-torn economy.

Pictures (from top to bottom):
  1. Joshua Fund founder Joel Rosenberg delivering aid and spending time with a brave and very sweet Israeli family in Sderot, just one kilometer from the Gaza border
  2. Israeli volunteers giving toys and games to Jewish children not from from the Gaza border
  3. Joel and three Israeli volunteers filling car with relief supplies to be distributed in Sderot
  4. Israeli volunteers being briefed in the events hall of a restaurant in Sderot that served as a staging area for packing the bags to be delivered to needy couples and families
  5. Bags with dry food goods
  6. Bags with toiletries
  7. Some of the dry foods included in the typical bag
  8. Some of the toiletries included in the typical bag
  9. Joel working with other volunteers to pack the bags ahead of distribution
  10. Smoke rising from Gaza after two Israeli airstrikes against Hamas targets