IN an article from the New York Times, the author focuses on Israeli support of those from the north by all sorts of means – food, shelter, and providing even things like entertainment and yoga – and weddings- to lower the stress of Israelis under bombardment or fleeing those areas. Of course, we all know that Israelis, whatever cultural flaws -or maybe we should call them “sports” (anyone up for an argument? – maybe about the bus fare?), are wonderful in this regard, and that the country has really pulled together at this time. The piece of the article that interested me, however, was a little zinger tacked on at the end, almost so that one would fail to notice it:
“Many northerners have left their homes to take refuge in the center or south of the country. Those who remain behind tend to be from the weakest and poorest segments of society, including immigrants and the elderly.
The general manager of Latet, Eran Weintraub, said most of the relief work has fallen on the shoulders of civil society as the government — accused of being sluggish and bureaucratic even in the best of times — is consumed by the war effort.
Mr. Weintraub has directed convoys of food-laden trucks and cars driven by volunteers directly to bomb shelters.
‘We wanted to physically get to the shelters in order to know it is going to the right place and to send a message to the people living in them that people from other parts of country care and that they are not alone,’ Mr. Weintraub said.

Israel’s socialist roots have been overshadowed in recent years by its embrace of a market- driven economy that celebrates individualism.

But Hillel Schmid, dean of the school of social work and social welfare at Hebrew University, said that this most recent war and the existential threat it seems to pose has once again unified Israelis around a precept deeply rooted in Jewish tradition that says, ‘A Jew guarantees the welfare of a fellow Jew.’
‘Once again there is a feeling that we are part of a collective … that we are going back to a feeling of responsibility to each other,’ Mr. Schmid said.
Here’s the really interesting part though. This article was forwarded to me from our local Federation. When I went to read it online , in what I presumed was the original article, I found that what the article there read was this way:
” ‘We wanted to physically get to the shelters in order to know it is going to the right place and to send a message to the people living in them that people from other parts of country care and that they are not alone,’ said Eran Weintraub, general manager of Latet.
Hillel Schmid, dean of the school of social work and social welfare at Hebrew University, said that this most recent war and the existential threat it seemed to pose had once again unified Israelis around a precept deeply rooted in Jewish tradition that says, ‘The people of Israel are responsible for one another.’
“’Once again there is a feeling that we are part of a collective,’ he said. ”
Okay, ten points for the one who notices precisely what’s missing. Yes, indeed, that’s right, the criticism of Israel’s move away from that very Jewish value of tzedakah- righteousness in taking care of those in need. Dr. Schmidt’s comment that a Jew guarantees the welfare of a fellow Jew is also missing. I am beyond curious at the source of this discrepancy. But for now let’s move on.
Although I am very touched to see my cousins in Israel taking care of one another, which I urge all Jews everywhere – especially in the USA where we remain safe – and many of us have the money to give- to help, I am and have been long disturbed by Israel’s turn away from our roots of tzedek. As one who has long been active with Rabbis for Human Rights, (as well as RHR-NA, the American support branch for this organization) -who have concerned ourselves with this very matter for a number of years- the shift in economic system to the incredibly unethical, and un-Jewish American system has been a source of great concern for me.
If it is possible for anything good to come from war, I hope that the recent renewal of “a precept deeply rooted in Jewish tradition that says, ‘A Jew guarantees the welfare of a fellow Jew.’ … a feeling that we are part of a collective … that we are going back to a feeling of responsibility to each other…'” is it, and that Israel, once, IY’H the fighting is over and Israel is safe, or at least safer, once again, the Israeli government will stop pretending that it is okay to leave the weakest members of society unprotected, and will be able to be a model for the US, which is horribly retrograde in this way, to return to a form of government that will protect and support all its citizens. That is, that Israel will be Jewish once again.