At least 10,000 shoppers flooded into the rocket-battered city of Sderot on Friday in a pre-Sabbath shopping spree to show solidarity with the residents and inject some much-needed cash into the local economy.
The organizers, a volunteer group from Modi'in, provided the visiting shoppers with a map of Sderot marked with the locations of shopping centers. Shoppers were asked to divide their expenditures among several businesses and to specifically strengthen the smaller shop owners. "Just travel in the city," organizers said, "get to know it and its residents, and in that way you'll find more places of business [to patronize]."
Calling it "the largest single social welfare action carried out for Sderot," organizers of the unique effort reported that
The numbers of people planning to join has exceeded all expectations.
convoys came from as far north as Nahariya, from the Jordan Valley in the east and from Be'er Sheva in the south.
Spokeswoman Efrat Klein told Arutz-7 that the road leading to Sderot from the Yad Mordechai junction was at one point completely jammed with more than a thousand vehicles.
Organizers noted that the number of people who participated exceeded all expectations. Among the organizations officially represented in the caravan were the National Students Union, the National Organization of Handicapped People, the Yachad School of Modiin, synagogues from around the nation, several municipalities and city youth centers, as well as a large number of charity organizations.
The Modi'in group has organized four such shopping convoys so far, and they keep doubling in size. When asked how Friday's convoy compared to the previous one, Klein answered, "Wow."
Gaza's terrorists have launched more than 400 rockets at Jewish communities since the start of 2008 alone, and over 6,000 since 2001. The unceasing attacks have led to a collapse of local industry and emptied the town of thousands of residents.
'A Personal Example of the Highest Order'
In May 2007, the first caravan of solidarity shoppers made its way to Sderot with 100 people who spent a total of approximately NIS 5,000. Less than two months later, in July, the second shopping trip brought 1,000 people and some NIS 500,000 into Sderot. In the August caravan, 4,000 people spent approximately two million shekels in the Negev city.
The long-distance shopping trip is the brainchild of Ilan Cohen, the head of the Modi'in Chess Club, who said Israelis show support for Sderot through personal example.
"We have a tremendous opportunity to prove that the citizens of Israel have not forgotten the residents of Sderot," the organizers of Friday's trip said. "We have a tremendous opportunity to set a personal example of the highest order."
Solidarity for Sderot in
A much-publicized event in
A benefit concert under the title "Live for Sderot" is being billed as the first of a series of events to celebrate
The Greater Toronto Jewish community is holding a rally for Sderot in Monday, featuring civil liberties lawyer Prof. Alan Dershowitz. The event will include a live satellite video from Sderot, with residents describing how they cope with the daily rocket attacks.
Gil Ronen and Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu contributed to this report.