A convoy of physical and moral support drove its way south to the besieged western Negev town of Sderot Tuesday morning from the town of Modi’in.
Photo: Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
Some 30 cars headed out from the central region community at 9:30 a.m. with a rabbinical send-off from Chabad Rabbi Baruch Slonim and Rabbi Yaakov Chicotai of Maccabim-Re’ut. No politicians were present, although an ad had been placed in the local paper to recruit participants a week ago.
The long-distance shopping trip is the brainchild of Ilan Cohen, the head of the Modi’in Chess Club, who said initiative is all part of the game in chess – and should be the way Israelis show support for Sderot.
“As a teacher,” explained Mr. Cohen, “I feel it’s important to set a personal example.” The chess master’s educational philosophy was shared by others and the project was quickly organized.
“It’s an ideologically motivated shopping trip,” explained one of the traveling customers. “I wouldn’t go to Sderot to have a shwarma [meat sandwich], but this is different.”
Truckers and other vehicles on the road beeped their horns, their drivers waving cheerily at the convoy as the group, bearing signs proclaiming “Modi’in Equals Sderot” made its way south.
“At one of the pit stops, someone asked me, ‘What are you demonstrating against?’” chuckled one of the participants. “I answered, ‘Not against, in support. In support of Sderot.’ 'Very good,' he told me.”
Once in Sderot, the solidarity drivers were met by volunteers from Lev Echad (One Heart), who explained their ongoing activity in the city. Highly organized Lev Echad volunteers bring food, games and encouragement to the residents in Sderot on a daily basis, including through nightly "parades," during which the volunteers dance and sing in the city's streets.
The Modi'in visitors immediately offered their assistance in purchasing necessities for Lev Echad "clients," with most also driving to some of those homes where the food and supplies were needed. In addition, as planned, Modi'in residents did some of their own personal "solidarity shopping," encouraging local business owners.
A reminder of why the "solidarity shoppers" were there came in the form of a Palestinian Authority rocket attack during the visit. The Kassam rocket slammed into Sderot at about 2:00 p.m, a few seconds after the "Color Red" alert was issued over city loudspeakers. There were no reported injuries in the attack, although ambulances converged on the impact site, as it was near a residential area. Local students in the midst of high-school graduation exams were interrupted by the bombing, but they pressed on immediately after the attack.
At the end of the excursion, Ilan Cohen committed himself to organizing a much bigger follow-up trip from Modi'in to Sderot in the coming weeks. "If Modi'in has succeeded in doing this," Cohen said, "then other cities will do this, too, until it becomes a mass event." He hopes to see hundreds of residents from around the country coming to Sderot in their own solidarity convoys in the coming months.
To support the solidarity shoppers’ spree, contact Mr. Cohen at 052-649-3828.
For another homegrown initiative, buying baked goods from Sderot, click here.