Coping with conflict World ORT staff in Israel


07 January 2009 Coping with conflict World ORT staff in Israel In a country as small as Israel it is hard to imagine anyone not touched by the Gaza conflict, let alone the one million civilians now within range of Hamass rockets. World ORTs team of committed professionals in the country are no different. World ORT representative Nechama Kenig has a son fighting on the front line. Less than three years ago Ms Kenig was sheltering from Hezbollah rockets falling on her home town of Kiryat Yam. In that war, World ORTs Project Manager, Sherrie Gazit, had a son on the front line now it is her home in Gan Yavneh which is susceptible to missiles. Were all thinking of Nechama and praying for the well-being of her son, and all Israels soldiers, Ms Gazit said. In fact, since the ground forces entered the Gaza Strip it can be said that residents who are still suffering from daily rocket attacks are actually worrying more about the collective and individual safety of our boys over there. Hamass random attacks cast fear over the most mundane activities from commuting to shopping to taking a shower. While working at World ORTs Petach Tikva office, Ms Gazit receives calls from home telling her of the air raid sirens urging friends and family into the shelters. A rocket fell on my town, Gan Yavneh, half-an-hour after I left for work one morning, she said. And during the night weve had to run to the shelter when the air-raid sirens went off. And rockets have killed one woman in Ashdod, the nearest city to where I live and where my family shops. For the communities we help in Hof Ashkelon and Shaar HaNegev this has been their daily experience for nearly eight years. It is no surprise, then, that the Head of World ORTs Representative Office in Israel, Colonel (res) Rony Kalinsky, has found the troops preparing to enter Gaza highly motivated. Like Shaar HaNegev Principal Aharon Rothstein, Mr Kalinsky has been called up by the IDF to boost the morale of the troops before they go into battle. I am happy to say that the soldiers did not need motivating, he said. They were ready for action and intent on their mission. Hearing first-hand from Aharale [Rothstein] about the lives of the local residents only strengthened their resolve and their belief in what they were doing. Mr Kalinsky added: After so many years of being the victim in the eyes of the Israeli public, the coin flipped when Aharale took on the role of supporting and encouraging the soldiers. He served as a living example of the fortitude and determination constantly displayed by the residents of this region. Meanwhile, Finance Manager Hanan Rubin, who is also Regional Pedagogical Manager for the three Kadima Mada schools which have been closed due to Hamas rocket fire (Hof Ashkelon, Shaar HaNegev and Makif Aleph), has been called up to do reserve duty. As a spokesman for the Home Command, Mr Rubin has been regularly accompanying foreign journalists and television crews to the front line. World ORT Director General Robert Singer paid tribute to the staff in Israel for their own fortitude. Despite the threat of physical harm and the concern for loved ones at home and in battle, World ORT is fortunate to have staff who continue to give their all to further our own mission of educating generations who will go on to build a prosperous, peaceful and secure future for Israel, Mr Singer said.