Israel – Rockland County Sends Firefighters To Israeli Understaffed Fire Stations


    Israel – For Israeli firefighters, the past week has been filled with little sleep, growing tension and round-the-clock action, as firefighters combat the constant barrage of fires caused by Katyusha rocket attacks.

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    Due to a shortage of manpower in the areas under fire, nearly half the members of fire department have left their regular posts and gone to help in the North. Now with only half of the firefighters remaining throughout the rest of Israel, fire stations in many locations are understaffed.
    To help staff the depleted fire houses, 50 volunteers from the Rockland County Fire Department in New York went to serve in Israel for the coming weeks. The volunteers will be placed at understaffed fire houses throughout the Israel.

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    17 years ago

    Residents undaunted by Middle East violence

    NEW ROCHELLE — Meira Levison is weary of being bombarded by dramatic television news reports about the violence between Israel and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.

    But the escalation has not affected the New Rochelle woman’s decision to move to Israel permanently early next month. In fact, the conflict has only strengthened Levison’s resolve.

    “It doesn’t change my plans,” the 22-year-old said on Tuesday “This is when people need you there. This is when Israel needs people to go. Jewish people belong there, and this is when they should be there, in a time of need.”

    Levison is among numerous local residents who are relocating to Israel this summer through Nefesh B’Nefesh, a Jerusalem-based organization that helps North American Jews make “aliyah,” or a permanent move, to Israel.

    The 5-year-old organization provides practical, logistical and financial support of between $5,000 and $25,000 to qualifying Jews, and helps them assimilate into Israeli life.

    At the end of this year, Nefesh B’Nefesh will have helped 10,000 “olim” — the Hebrew term for immigrant to Israel — since its inception, spokesman Charley Levine said.

    David Saranga, the consul for media and public affairs at the Israeli Consulate in New York City, said Israelis welcome olim “with open arms.”

    In general, immigrants who came to Israel in the nation’s infancy were fleeing persecution or seeking a better economic outlook, he said. Those in recent years have come because of ideology.

    “They come, not because they want to improve their standard of living, but they come because they think that the right place for them to live is in Israel,” Saranga said yesterday. “Israel as a state, of course, one of the important things is to see the Israeli society growing, and the arrival of the new immigrants is an important contribution, not just for the economy, but for all aspects of life.”

    On Aug. 16, three flights from Canada, the U.S. and England will arrive simultaneously in Israel, Levine said. The event will serve as a national reaffirmation, he said, adding that the landing of each planeload of olim is an inspirational event that “commands a total, electric impact” in Israel.

    Geula Twersky understands the feeling. The 37-year-old New Hempstead woman made aliyah last year, then returned for her husband, 47-year-old Yitzchak; his mother, Gladys Twersky; and the couple’s nine children, Nechama, 18; Penina, 16; Gila, 15; Yehuda, 13; Hillel, 10; Ruchama, 8; Nechemya, 5; Shalva, 4, and Tiferet, 17 months.

    Geula Twersky’s entire family will make aliyah on an Aug. 9 Nefesh B’Nefesh flight.

    Levison will be on that flight. She will leave her parents, Moshe and Phyllis, and her brother, Avi, behind.

    Geula Twersky said her arrival in Israel as an Israeli citizen last year was life-altering.

    The Twerskys, both of whom are Jewish religious school teachers, are building a home in Nevedan Daniel, an area near Efrat. They said making aliyah has always been their goal.

    Although, as with any big move, there were mixed feelings, Yitzchak Twersky said.

    Their younger children were excited, and the older ones felt the coming loss of attachments they had formed, he said.

    “I think what a lot of us are feeling is, on the one hand, there’s a sense of leaving home, but also the sense of going home at the same time,” he said.

    The Twerskys, who are Orthodox Jews, did not express any reluctance about their move when they were interviewed July 3. They had general concerns for Israel’s security and their own, but they were no more preoccupied about the situation than they would be living in the New York metropolitan area after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Geula Twersky said.

    “We’re not that far from Indian Point, you know,” Yitzchak Twersky noted. “I think that part of this is the philosophical approach that, you know, no matter what you do, everyone dies eventually. … And I think it’s important that we not allow terrorists to do what they want to do, which is to terrorize us.”

    And although the situation weighs on Geula Twersky’s mind, her concern is less pressing than her need to fulfill her religious obligation.

    “To begin with, real Judaism, when you’re serious about it, it’s not something that’s for a synagogue, it’s your life,” she said, “and in Judaism, the concept of a united Israel is the integral piece and that not being there is a gaping hole.”

    Raised in an Orthodox household, Levison said making aliyah always was encouraged. And having lived for the past year in Israel — a test to see whether life in that country was for her — clinched it.

    “I don’t know, I just was so happy,” she said, speaking in her bedroom at her family’s New Rochelle home. She returned to the U.S. from Israel in June. “A feeling comes over you. I was just so happy being there. I was such a happy person. It’s much more laid back. It’s very uptight here. It’s not as materialistic, and it’s much more laid back, which I think fits my mentality much better. So I figured I’d try that. I know that’s what I’m supposed to do as a Jewish person.”

    17 years ago

    Despite war, Lower Hudson Valley families make move to Israel

    NEW YORK — Standing near the departure gate at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Vita Wolinsky held tightly onto her 1-year-old grandson, half-joking when she told his parents, “You go, we’ll keep Aryeh.”

    The grandmother from Monsey paused, then handed the boy over to his parents before saying a bittersweet goodbye to them yesterday as they boarded an El Al plane for a one-way flight to Israel.

    “Call us when you get there,” she said, tearfully, as they headed for a country that is now battling enemies on two fronts.

    The violence makes all of them nervous, but it also emboldens the young family to carry on with their mission to start a new life in the Jewish state. They were among 239 American and Canadian Jews who took the flight yesterday through the organization Nefesh B’Nefesh and are among 2,300 who are making “aliyah” — immigration to Israel — during the summer.

    The number is 15 percent more than last year and the most since 1984. And those who are promoting the aliyah movement say the threats facing Israel, including the rocket attacks from southern Lebanon, are one reason why the number is growing, said Michael Landsberg, executive director of the Jewish Agency’s Aliyah Department in North America.

    “They believe they can make a difference, especially in these times,” Landsberg said, cheering on passengers yesterday as they lugged their bags into the airport. “They are showing solidarity. No one canceled because of the violence, and I predict it will bring us more immigrants.”

    Landsberg joined several Jewish leaders who held a news conference in the airport lobby, highlighting the large turnout in an effort to show that Jews will not be deterred by terrorists.

    Toting cameras, microphones and notebooks, journalists repeatedly asked passengers one question — are they having second thoughts about going home with all the violence?

    The common answer: No. They’re nervous, they say, but feel compelled to go because they love Israel and want to stand up for its fight to secure the homeland.

    “I’ve always spoken about my support and solidarity for the state of Israel,” said Ilanit Zakowski, Wolinsky’s daughter. “Now is a better time than ever to express that.”

    Beverly Weisbrot, 43, of New Rochelle came to the airport to wish her brother and his family a safe flight as they headed off yesterday from JFK.

    “I told him not to go, but not because of the rockets,” said Weisbrot, whose brother is from Baltimore. “It’s because I’ll miss him. My children are very close to his children, so I’d rather have him with me. But I’m proud of him.”

    Anna Melman, 24, a Croton-on-Hudson resident who was hauling two bags and a carry-on to the checkout area, had to say goodbye to her own parents. Melman, a conservative Jew with Zionist ideals, is moving to Israel in hopes of working in conflict management, wanting to improve relations between Arabs and Jews, and religious and secular Israelis.

    “If Israel’s going through a hard time, I want to be there,” Melman said. “I feel like my fate is tied up in the fate of my people.”

    Her parents, who are remaining in Croton, followed her to the departure gate. Her father, Marty Melman, snapped pictures of her as she walked past security.

    “As a mother, it’s very hard, but I’m proud of her at the same time,” Amy Melman said.

    She embraced her daughter one last time and told her, “We’ll see you soon.”

    17 years ago

    im a vol fire fighter in jesey and intrested in going to israel to vol now. any one have any info?

    mark levin
    mark levin
    17 years ago

    Thank you to the Rockland County Fire Department for sending your people over to help. A special thanks to the volunteers and moreso to their families.

    17 years ago

    “matzilei aish”? from which firehouses?

    17 years ago