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Navah: Jerusalem Post Article

This was an article written up about the NAVAH Fund in the Jerusalem Post edition September 13, 2002.

Hundreds of innocent Israelis have lost their lives over the last few months. Their smiling faces forever frozen in time, stare up at us as we sip our coffee over the morning newspaper. Every day it seems, there are more funerals, more tragic losses. In those same sad articles, we read about the numbers of injured some lightly wounded, others in serious or critical condition. There are no photographs of these other victims, and after their brief, anonymous mention on the day of an attack, they recede into the past and disappear from our thoughts.

Unfortunately, there are thousands of Israelis who are battling the physical and emotional after-effects of falling victim to a terrorist attack. Many have been hospitalized for months while others are at rehabilitation centers or at home, struggling to come to terms with their injuries. For so many of the families of these injured survivors, life is changed forever.

A few months ago, the NAVAH Distribution Fund, using Fly A Cake's gift service, began distributing care packages to victims of terror throughout Israel. They launched a non-profit campaign to offer them help and support. It all began around the time of Purim, with the tradition of sending Purim packages to friends and family. The company, which has a branch in Israel, put together hundreds of gift packages thanks to donations from all over the world. Donations poured in, from America to China, Germany to Japan, rabbis to priests. One thing everyone had in common, they all wanted to show their support and concern for the victims of terror.

The response was so overwhelming, that the NAVAH Fund has continued to fill this much-needed role. Today, the NAVAH Fund receives many donations that enable it to assemble care packages that are delivered by groups of volunteers to victims and their families. Each package contains a loving message from the donor and a code affording the recipient the opportunity to make contact.

One volunteer named Linda, asks herself the same question every time she goes to deliver care packages to hospitals: Can a beautiful gift package actually offer comfort and solace to the victims of terror? The experiences of volunteers have shown that the answer, overwhelmingly, is YES!

Linda relates the story of a recent visit to victim Sharon Chaim ben Gila. He was injured in an attack in downtown Jerusalem in December last year, and has endured seven months of surgery and rehabilitation. Sharon is a quadriplegic and is unable to speak due to the position of an inoperable nail in his brain. Gila, a mother of nine children, welcomed the volunteers warmly and explained how fortunate she feels that her son is alive. "For her, related Linda, "the visit meant that people remember her son's plight. She needs the reminder that people care -- even people she will never meet. This sentiment is echoed in the many letters, and phone calls that pour in to the NAVAH offices on a daily basis. Chava, another victim, called sobbing, overwhelmed by the caring and concern. She and her husband were injured on May 7th in the Rishon Litzion suicide attack. Chava had glass lodged in her kidneys, while Menachem has yet to be released from Beit Levinstein, a rehabilitation center. The package has moved Chava so, that she herself has offered to volunteer delivering packages, and spread the warmth to other victims like herself.

Another touching tribute to the difference that many caring people have made came to us in a letter from the grandparents of Dvir, a thirteen year-old child who was severely wounded by a mine in a terrorist attack. They wrote: "There are not enough words to express our gratitude and gratefulness to you for including Dvir in your prayers, for your concern for him and the whole family and for taking time to share your thoughts and feelings with us. We are completely overwhelmed by the out-pouring of kindness and generosity that you have shown us. Knowing that our pain is your pain and that every trial, tribulation and success in Dvir's recovery is part of you, gives us all great strength and faith that, please G-d, our prayers will be answered."

It is not only the recipients who express appreciation, but the volunteers themselves. Volunteering affords them the opportunity to do something positive to improve so many fractured lives. A volunteer, Emunah, expresses it best in a note to NAVAH: " For my part, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this act of kindness. I went to the hospitals to strengthen the injured and I left being strengthened by them." In addition to its initiative to send care packages to victims of terror, NAVAH has also launched a campaign called "Kids Unite for Israel" that aims to uplift the spirits of child victims and enrich their shattered lives. Schoolchildren all around the world are invited to express their concern for their Israeli brothers and sisters by drawing pictures for them or writing them messages of support and blessings for the New Year. The children's creations are attached to care packages and delivered to young terror victims by NAVAH volunteers.

NAVAH has also set up a tzedakah (charity) fund. The need for such a fund became clear during the conversations between volunteers and victims' families. As a result of terror attacks, many victims and their families are plunged into financial distress. For example a mother of four, who lost her sister in the Rishon L'Tzion bombing, and was herself badly injured in the attack, is now confined to a wheelchair. She lives in a second floor apartment and cannot leave her home unless a railing is built. However, she does not have the money to provide it. There are many families that need long-term support and families that just need help getting through this most difficult time. Donations made to the NAVAH Distribution Fund are distributed according to the specific needs of each individual.

It is not difficult to make a difference in the life of a victim of terror. You do not have to donate lots of money or change your lifestyle. You simply have to care. NAVAH enables you to touch a victim's life, to reach out through a note attached to a simple package. This tiny act speaks volumes to victims who feel isolated, forgotten and hopeless.

Perhaps this incident sums it up best: Last week, a deliveryman arrived at the Fly A Cake bakery, and noticed all the care packages awaiting delivery to victims of terror. Visibly moved, he looked at the staff and said, "So, it's you guys who do this!" He had been sitting at his brother's bedside in the Intensive Care Unit of Hadassah Hospital, when a NAVAH volunteer quietly placed a care package on the table, wished them well and left. The family had wanted to open the package to eat the treats inside, however his mother, quickly got up and said, "Do you think they came all this way to bring care packages for us to eat? This care package is to give us hope that one day my son will be able to get up and open this package, and read the greetings himself!"