Four years ago, Shevy Vigler, who together with her husband Uriel founded Belev Echad in 2009, fused her dual passions of Jewish outreach and touching the hearts of wounded soldiers by founding Neshek, an organization whose name carries a double entendre. The word Neshek translates literally into “weapons” but is also an acronym for “Nerot Shabbos Kodesh, sacred Shabbat candles.”
Shabbat candles, she explains, have always symbolized the superpower of Jewish women, “and when we appreciate the force of this special mitzvah, the mitzvah of candle-lighting, we create light and drive away physical and spiritual darkness.”
Last week, 250 Jewish women attended a spectacular soiree in New York’s Central Park Zoo to benefit Israel Defense Forces soldiers and veterans wounded in action, fighting terror with light.
Shevy explained, “We, women of New York, may be geographically distanced from Israel, but our hearts are connected as one. We embrace our IDF soldiers and veterans who were wounded in action and terror, and with unity and our special power, we give them strength to carry on and rebuild.”
“Neshek’s goal is to ramp up women’s involvement, to bring them out in support of Israel and Israel’s soldiers, to show them that we really care,” says board member Arielle Tradburks. “We’re all about engaging women, empowering them and involving them.”
“Women have a unique ability to build bridges of connection, and they infuse the organization with a special light,” adds board member Elianna Tisch.
Over the past few years, Neshek has hosted approximately four events a year, but last week’s soiree was the first time that the organization attracted so many new women. In the course of the evening, the guests met soldiers and veterans who were wounded in action or terror incidents, heard their stories firsthand, sang together and danced together. At the close of the evening, Shevy announced the opening of the Neshek Fund which will be used to benefit wounded soldiers.
Vanessa Chalme describes how the guests who participated in the event returned home emotionally and spiritually charged, eager to reach out and do their utmost for Jewish soldiers in the trenches and the veterans who gave so much for their country and people.
Soldiers who were wounded in action and terror incidents suffer not only the physical pain and challenge of overcoming disability to return to life, but emotional pain, as well. Many are diagnosed with various levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that can continue for years and make the recovery much more difficult.
“Dozens of wounded soldiers and veterans are groping in the darkness, struggling to find light and hope in their lives. Many who were once physically fit are now encumbered with physical or emotional disabilities, and they are seeking light, seeking hope and encouragement,” expresses Shevy.
“The whole idea underlying Neshek is that women are lamplighters! Women possess an awesome weapon with the power to light up others with their unique fire, with their special light. Fire and light aren’t diminished when sharing with others, but only increase their collective light. At Neshek, we’re seeking to empower women so they can continue fanning their own flames and the flames of other women, bringing light into their own lives, the lives of their families, and the lives of Israel’s soldiers and veterans.”