Rabbi Shmuel Bowman says his organization offers Monmouth County residents and people everywhere a tangible, concrete way to show support and love for the Israeli people.
On March 1 at Temple Beth Ahm of Aberdeen, Bowman, executive director of Operation Lifeshield, will drive home to community members just how critical the work of his humanitarian organization is, as it builds and installs protective shelters at Israeli schools, kindergartens, community centers, parks, and bus stops.
“The goal of Operation Lifeshield is to protect Israelis from enemy rocket attacks by providing accessible shelters,” Bowman told NJJN via e-mail from Israel.
“Help from supporters around the world is the bedrock of our mission. We could not bring shelters to Israeli schoolchildren, families, and elderly immigrants from the former USSR without this crucial support.”
Bowman — whose presentation is cosponsored along with Beth Ahm by Jewish Federation of Monmouth County and in Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Monmouth County Marlboro — will be on a visit to the United States to raise awareness of the organization’s life-saving structures and of the need to erect more shelters throughout Israel.
In providing a forum for him to reach out to the local community, said Bowman, Temple Beth Ahm and the federation “are sending an important, uplifting message of unity to Israelis traumatized by the terror of incessant rocket attacks.”
When Dr. Todd Cooperman of Marlboro, incoming chair of Beth Ahm’s Israel Affairs Committee, came across an Operation Lifeshield flyer, he immediately contacted Bowman to invite him to Aberdeen.
“Our temple is dedicated to increasing awareness of Israel’s needs and encouraging our members to be advocates for Israel,” Cooperman said. “It’s a fact of life that many Israelis are going to school and work not knowing if a missile is going to land on them. Israel simply does not have enough bomb shelters.
“Every Jew is responsible for one another,” he said. “We are obligated to do everything we can to support and defend Israel.”
This is just the sort of community-wide program that federation encourages and supports, said executive director Keith Krivitzky. “We are committed to efforts that engage the broader Jewish community in Israel education and awareness, especially of the many challenges faced by Israel today,” he said.
Israel Affairs Committee cochair Sarah Biser of Holmdel will address the gathering, spelling out Operation Lifeshield’s fund-raising goal. “It’s very important to me that the congregation and guests understand how critical this program is. We are providing a defense against an existential threat to Jews and Israelis in a manner that each one of us can participate in.
“Many Americans don’t realize how much we can do from here,” Biser said. “With just a few shekels from all of us, we can help save Israeli lives.”
Schechter’s head of school, Yoti Yarhi, will speak at the program about her experiences this summer visiting her native Israel.
“Over the course of one week, more than 200 missiles were fired into my hometown in southern Israel, forcing us into the shelter, often awakening us in the middle of the night,” Yarhi told NJJN.
“It was in one of these bomb shelters that I made the decision to dedicate myself to ensuring that all Israelis have access to protective shelters. Long-range rockets can strike anywhere in Israel. There are just not enough bomb shelters to protect everyone.
“We must guarantee Israel’s citizens safe places to take refuge in the event of attack,” Yarhi said. “We must bring awareness about the situation in Israel to humanity. We are obligated to tell the world that we will not allow rocket missiles to be fired into our towns without regard for human life.”