By Linoy Barokas, UJS Shlicha
Since October 7, the lives of many Israelis have turned upside down and become the worst nightmare - they lost their families, friends, homes and lives. In the midst of all this darkness, we chose to collect some stories about Israelis who chose to turn the difficulty into an opportunity and spread light in their surroundings. Here are some of them:
In order to cook for tens of thousands of people, Tel Aviv restaurants kasher their kitchens
On a normal day, the Haachim Restaurant on Tel Aviv’s Ibn Gabirol Street is loud and boisterous.
This week, it’s become central for a massive food supply line, as some 100 restaurants in Tel Aviv have joint forces, cooking for soldiers, hospitals and the surviving evacuees of the Gaza border communities.
Over the last five days, this restaurant team alone has turned out some 20,000 meals a day, with the help of around 300 volunteers, in an effort started by Haachim owner, Yotam Doktor on Saturday night. After one truckload of 2,000 meals was thrown out on Monday because it wasn’t kosher enough for its intended recipients, Dok, as he’s known, realized he wanted to be able to supply food to whoever needed it.
Now Haachim, along with several other usually non-kosher restaurants, received temporary kosher certification from the city’s rabbinate this week, in order to provide kosher food.
It’s an emergency kosher certification, valid this week through Friday, and then he’ll have to renew it next week, said Doktor.
The owners of the Brothers restaurant with the temporary kosher certificate, in the photo they uploaded to their Facebook
The protesters against the government who went on rescue missions for the residents of southern Israel
It was just last month when Eran Navon, a former Israeli combat soldier, was arrested at an anti-government demonstration near his home outside of Tel Aviv.
He was one of millions of Israelis — including active and former reservists — who spent the year protesting the government and the judicial reform.
But now, 53-year-old Navon and other veterans who have been critical of the government are mobilizing to assist Israel’s war effort in Gaza. They’ve put politics aside and are helping in the mass evacuation of Israeli civilians from communities near the Gaza perimeter. “We’re not coming for political reasons,” said Sefi Ariely, a former seaman in the Israeli navy who has been leading civilian evacuations from the southern city of Sderot, about 8 miles from Gaza.
Both Ariely and Navon are members of the sprawling Brothers and Sisters in Arms protest group, an association of active reservists and military veterans who came together to oppose the policies of Netanyahu’s government — and who are now among the leaders of the grass-roots mobilization networks at the front.
Thousands more Brothers in Arms members connected with each other as the horrors unfolded, using the WhatsApp messaging groups they created to coordinate action during the protests.
The army then gave the ex-reservists the green light to expand their efforts and enter active military zones to rescue civilians along the border.
Haredi women enlist in the war effort, and open a war room inside a wig shop
The "Iron Sisters" operation room, which was named after the "Iron Swords" operation in Israel, is an initiative by Sarah Tancman to mobilize ultra-Orthodox women for the common good.
They have set up this operation room in a wig shop that was donated for the purpose. Within just a week, they have deployed 150 neighbourhood coordinators and more than 1,000 women volunteers from across the country to support various civil humanitarian initiatives. They are engaged in a range of activities, from preparing Shabbat meals for 320 families in Jerusalem to finding accommodations for evacuees, and are actively providing any assistance to the needs they come across.
They are now reaching out to women who need help during the war.
Last week they published a post on Facebook calling on both secular and ultra-Orthodox women to sign up for a Google Docs form where they can ask for help, the post received thousands of shares and postings on social medias.