JRT update and public service announcement:
Here is IDF summary of attacks on Sderot for Thursday, March 24th: 2days rocket fire from Gaza: 4 mortars, 3 Qassams, 2 Grads. Landing in Eshkol RC, Ashkelon, Shar Hanegev, and Ashdod, one projectile landing in Sderot.
While central authorities were trying to downplay the seriousness of the situation, David Buskila, Mayor of Sderot, took a stand and appealed to residents to stay close to shelters, stressing that for Sderot, it was a war situation.
David Buskila is a good friend of the Russian Jewish Community of Boston. Below is the Jewish Advocate article about Mayor's visit to Boston in November of 2010:
Sderot’s mayor thanks Boston on behalf of his city’s children
At gathering for Sderot Mayor David Buskila (from left): Rafik Agarunov, deputy mayor of Sderot; Inessa Rifkin, founder of Russian School of Mathematics; former camp counselors Liz Tverskoy, Eliza Zell and Alina Sapozhnikova; and Buskila.
It’s as if the messiah is coming.
Such is the excitement of the children of the Sderot as they anticipate summer camp. The mayor of the missile-ravaged Israeli city was in town last week to thank Boston’s Russian Jewish Community Foundation for its support of the camp and other projects.
“It lets these kids live like normal children for two weeks,” Mayor David Buskila told a group at the Newton branch of the Russian School of Mathematics (RSM), which has sent many students and former students to serve as counselors at the camp.
RSM founder Inessa Rifkin noted that over the past couple of decades a million Jews left Russia for America and another million for Israel. Helping Sderot, where many Russians settled, is a matter of looking out “for our brothers in Israel,” said Rifkin, who is principal at the Newton branch.
RSM sponsored its first camp in Sderot four years ago. At that time, the western Negev city was still under heavy fire from Gaza, with 293 rockets falling within just two weeks, the mayor said.
Shaking his head in disbelief, Buskila said that eight years of missile strikes have left three quarters of the children suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
“How can we grow, how can we have a future?” he asked. “Our children don’t know what it’s like to play outside, because it isn’t safe.”
Stressing that no one has ever launched a missile from Sderot into Gaza, the mayor said both the children and adults of Sderot ask themselves: “Why do they hate us?” Buskila said he knew of “terrorist in training schools” where children are given math questions such as “If you meet 4 Jews and kill 3, how many Jews are left?” Three former RSM students who have served as counselors at the camp attended last week’s session with the mayor: Liz Tverskoy of Boston, Eliza Zell of Louisville, Ky., and Alina Sapozhnikova of Boston, all 19.
Zell said the experience so affected her that she planned to move to Israel permanently. The former counselors stay in touch with the kids through Facebook. Sapozhnikova is setting up English lessons with the Sderot kids via Skype.
All three women said that they were overwhelmed by the love they felt from the children. “At first the kids were just awful, so badly behaved, but once they got to know us, they were the warmest most beautiful people, telling us they loved us a 100 times a day,” Tverskoy said.
She recalled that when the counselors were about to leave a 12 year-old boy said to them: “I’m not letting you go, I have a big birdcage at home, and I’m putting you all inside so you can’t leave me.”
Buskila was honored at the Russian Jewish Community Foundation’s annual charity ball last weekend at Lombardo’s in Randolph. More than 450 people looked on as the mayor received the Excellence in Leadership Award. The Soviet Jewry Freedom award was given to Arthur Lindberg of New Jersey, who as Navy lieutenant commander was recruited by the FBI in a 1978 sting operation that netted Soviet spies; the Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky; and the Community Leadership Award to Maria and Dmitry Gofshteyn, major supporters of the arts on the North Shore and of the Sderot camp program.
For the Russian Jewish community in Boston, and across the US, Sderot became our own adopted home in Israel. Sderot children became our own. Over past four years 45 Russian Jewish young people traveled to Israel to conduct a Summer camp for children of Sderot. This year we are doing it again.
Please watch a video about what our Russian Jewish counselors are doing for children of Sderot.
There is something you can do about the situation in Israel!