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Keep Calm and Bake Cookies

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As a new blogger for Jewish Values Online, I thought about using my first post here to introduce myself. But that can wait. And even if I never do it officially, hopefully, we'll get to know one another over time anyway.
 
Instead I want to tell you about something that's happening all over Israel right now. I know your first thought might be, "Yeah, we know, rockets from the Gaza Strip are all over Israel right now." And you wouldn't be wrong. But that's not what I'm referring to.
 
After they complete their fulltime army service, Israeli men are part of the reserve corps (called miluim in Hebrew) and serve an average of 20-30 days a year until the age of 45. During times of war or other military operations, they are subject to being called up for as long as the army needs them. That means that ordinary citizens drop everything -  work projects, parenting, family commitments, everything, to respond when the Israeli army calls them.
 
Which brings us to my story. One of our neighbors, a married man in his 30s, has a brother whose reserve unit in the Israeli army was called up during Operation Protective Edge. They are sitting near the Gaza border waiting for many days to either be sent closer to the front or to be sent home. Since Israel is such a small country, one brother can drive from his home near Jerusalem to his brother's army base near Gaza, to bring him whatever he might have forgotten to pack when he was called up. In my story, one brother decides to do something much bigger.
 
My neighbor and his wife announce to the community that they are collecting food to bring to the soldiers who left everything behind to protect and serve. He speaks to the commanding officer and finds out what the soldiers need. They need deodorant. They need toothpaste. And they need some home cooked food. So my neighbor, the brother, drives all around the community collecting. Tomorrow morning, he will drive to the base where his brother's unit is stationed, whip out his portable barbeque grill and indulge our soldiers in a splurge of fresh-cooked meat.
 
I had an idea to compliment the meat spree. I posted on our community's Facebook page that I was trying to get pledges for 360 homemade cookies to be sent along with the barbeque and deodorant. Pledges came in fast and furious. In a matter of a few hours, we had many more than 360 cookies pledged, one dozen at a time.

This is far from an isolated story. From the Talmud, we get the expression, "Kol yisrael arevim zeh bazeh." It means that all Jewish people are responsible for one other. All over Israel, civilians are shopping, baking and delivering care packages to army bases throughout Israel. Why do we do such things? To show our soldiers, who are, after all, our sons, daughters, cousins, husbands, neighbors and friends, how much the Jewish people truly are connected.


 

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