Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau visited the beleaguered city of Sderot on Friday morning. The city, and its surrounding region, has been pummeled by roughly 100 rockets from Gaza since Wednesday, with the most recent hitting Friday morning.
"The whole country is behind you and prays for your peace. We hope the Purim holiday will be peaceful, and all of the house of Israel together will be able to rejoice in the joy of the holiday," Rabbi Lau told the residents.
The rabbi visited several centers in the city, including the Sderot Yeshiva, accompanied by Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi. During the visit, Rabbi Lau gave Purim baskets for the holiday to IDF soldiers manning the Iron Dome defense system.
"I found smiling soldiers full of hope and faith," reported Rabbi Lau, who himself served in the IDF. Last December the rabbi declared the Shabbat of the Torah portion "Vayishlach" as a day to honor soldiers wounded during their service.
Rabbi Lau said he felt an obligation to visit Sderot, to support the residents and soldiers who are coping with the largest-scale attack since the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense.
The rabbi reported, "I heard yesterday from a mother from Sderot who was uncertain if she could celebrate Purim and find her children; I came here to support and strengthen the parents and children so that they can continue their normal lives."
Speaking to the Iron Dome soldiers, Rabbi Lau blessed their efforts to defend residents during the holiday, and stated "an important mission is placed on you, you are engaged in holy activities of truly saving lives."
Last October, Rabbi Lau visited Jews expelled from Gush Katif who had established communities in southern Israel following the 2005 "Disengagement" plan.
Speaking to those who had gone through the expulsion, the rabbi said "you are meriting to establish and renew the Holy Land, and I draw strength from you. This proves that nothing can stop those who believe in the Torah."
IDF Spokesperson Unit