Instead of Standing Vigil, This Community Sprang into Action

On the day after Simchas Torah, Rabbi Menachem Slavaticki, director of Chabad Israeli Center of Skokie, Illinois, mobilized a massive campaign to gather supplies for IDF soldiers.

By Laya Kleinman

Following the horrific massacre in Southern Israel on Shmini Atzeret, the greater Jewish community was left in shock, trying to process the enormity of the catastrophe that cost the lives of over 1,400 of our brothers and sisters. As Israel called up 300,000 reserves – in the largest and hastiest call-up in Israel’s history – it became evident that Israel was in dire need of all sorts of supplies. This included medical supplies to treat the thousands of injured, essential needs to bury the dead, military supplies for our soldiers, and basic necessities for the thousands of families who have been dislocated due to the massacre and the subsequent hostilities.

While the world paused and stood vigil, others sprang into action

On the day after Simchat Torah, Rabbi Menachem Slavaticki, director of Chabad Israeli Center of Skokie, Illinois, mobilized a massive campaign to gather supplies from donors from the greater Chicago area. Local community members Sholom Goodman and Kristi Katz initiated a WhatsApp group called “Chessed Chicago Army” and invited others to join in this project. Chabad of Wilmette also held a drive and brought many packages to Skokie. In the following days, hundreds of people delivered parcels to be transported to Israel while dozens more volunteered to sort through supplies and pack trucks. In the span of one week, the entire parking lot at Chabad was filled to capacity.

“At Chabad Israeli Center, many, many members were personally affected by the events in Israel,” Slavaticki shared. “In the days after the terrible massacre I found myself checking and rechecking all the news sites. I quickly realized how unhelpful that was for anyone. I realized that the people in Israel actually needed our help. And now.”  Slavaticki began making phone calls to local contacts as well as contacts in Israel to find out what supplies was most desperately needed. Some of the items in this transport are thermal blankets, medical supplies of EVERY kind, head lamps, essential clothing, tactical uniform and gear, and large military backpacks.

After the items were delivered to Chabad, each parcel was organized and all the supplies clearly documented. Upon arrival in Israel later this week, the supplies will be collected by Israel Heart2Heart and will be distributed to military bases around the country as well as the communities in Southern Israel that were impacted by the attack. Additionally, many items were custom “ordered” by IDF soldiers who contacted their friends from the Israeli community in Chicago. These items will be brought to the military bases of those who requested them.

Rabbi Slavaticki thanked Rabbi Moshe Teldon from Chabad of Wilmette, Rabbi Eliyahu Rapoport of Bais Menachem Chabad Center, and Rabbi Yosef Moscowitz of Chabad of Bucktown for all their help.

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