The underpants came first

Community rallies for Israel

"I am so proud of our community."

Dream Team from left: Hagar, Avi, Aviva, Yaffa, Dan, Vered. Photo: Peter Haskin
Dream Team from left: Hagar, Avi, Aviva, Yaffa, Dan, Vered. Photo: Peter Haskin

Liora Vitos Koren, founder of the Yerucham Association, phoned her friend and business associate Aviva Sztrajt, co-founder of Click & Connect, from Israel on Sunday, October 15, and asked: “If I give you a list of things, would the Jewish community in Melbourne help to fill the list?”

Sztrajt said, “I thought, she’s asked me one question too many. I’ve done everything she asked me for the last seven years but this one, I haven’t got a clue how to do.”

For the past seven years Click & Connect has worked with the Yerucham Association in the Israeli disadvantaged school sector.

A few phone calls later, Sztrajt had her dream team, Hagar, Avi, Yaffa, Danny and Vered sitting around a table brainstorming for half an hour.

It started that Sunday and by Tuesday the team had a warehouse to store and dispatch the never-ending donations that were piling up in Yaffa and Danny’s house. Space on the plane departing on Wednesday was filled and the next available flight is filling fast. It has become a tsunami of giving, helping and community involvement.

Joanne Levy, president of Sassoon Yehuda Sephardi Synagogue, unexpectedly and anonymously received boxes of 500 brand-new pairs of men’s and women’s underpants at the shule on Friday, October 6. Levy saw the callout for donations from Sztrajt on social media and knew that this was due to a higher power. “Thanks to Hashem the underpants arrived before I even knew I needed them,” she said.

The Yerucham Association had risen to the need of the hour which was way beyond the organisation’s regular focus. Vitos Koren said, “Since schools are closed we found that our efforts can be better put to use by raising money and donations for the immediate existential needs of the evacuees.”

In Sztrajt’s case, Vitos Koren asked for clothing for the coming winter, baby food for infants, underwear, personal sanitary products, and so much more. “There’s a lot of different people who are doing beautiful things and it’s just wonderful.”

Sztrajt does not know what’s on Vitos Koren’s lists in the coming weeks. “I’m sure we will be okay because the dream team are here,” she said. “You have no idea of their connections and their facilities. They are working people and yet they dropped everything to be here with us, I am so proud of our community.”

When the locals respond and deliver their goods, nearly all want to know what else they can do. Sztrajt suggested, “Pass on the message to everybody on your Facebook, I will be sending you a new list in a few days so we can continue to do our best for Israel.

“I am so proud of our community.”

The Yerucham Association for the Future of Education in Israel is a not-for-profit organisation, that contributes to closing gaps in education and furthering equal opportunity in disadvantaged communities on the geographical and social periphery of Israel.

Sztrajt – together with Linda Moldovan and Robyn Bloom – in 2016 founded Click & Connect- English For Kids Inc. to provide English conversation via Zoom to students from disadvantaged schools in Israel.

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