In December, 2008, after years of saving money for the trip of a lifetime, my family and I travelled to the Jewish ancestral homeland, Eretz Israel! The day after we settled into our hotel in Tel Aviv, was the day that war between Israel and Hamas began. My wife and I looked at each other and wondered, what did we get ourselves into!
After spending two weeks in Israel, that question was emphatically answered. We were blessed to have been to a magically land, inhabited by magnificent people. Our people. Our brothers and sisters. A magnificent, resilient people who have harnessed their brainpower and ingenuity to produce more start-up companies than large, economically powerful nations like Japan, China, India and the United Kingdom. A country that has made great strides in its inventions in the areas of medical research, agriculture and defense weaponry. Unfortunately, the government of Israel needs to continue to spend great sums of money toward its defense budget. As a result, other areas of the country's infrastructure have been neglected.
One of those areas is the country's fire department. Israel is using aging, antiquated fire engines to put out fires and to limit the destruction from the rockets fired by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Although not much is said in the American news about these rockets, they continue to fall upon Israel -- everday!
When I came back to the United States, I wanted to make an immediate difference in the lives of my brethren in Israel. I looked to the Jewish National Fund ("JNF") for help. Since 1901, the JNF has been the caretakers for the land of Israel. The JNF has evolved into a global environmental leader by planting 240 million trees, building over 200 reservoirs and dams, developing over 250,000 acres of land, creating more than 1,000 parks, providing the infrastructure for over 1,000 communities, bringing life to the Negev Desert and educating students around the world about Israel and the environment. The JNF also supported a project to modernize the Israeli Fire Department with compact, all-wheel drive vehicles, which can negotiate ancient alleyways as easily as it can climb rocky hills. The use of these trucks is imperative to Israel's border towns as they are needed to minimize the damage from the incoming rocket fire.
I had the idea for the Jews of Howard County to stand up and be counted. I want to believe that our community can be counted upon to raise the funds necessary funds to buy a border town a new, modern fire truck. The deployment of such a truck will make an immediate difference in the lives of hundreds of Israeli families.
The cost of the truck is $125,000. People from Howard County have donated to this cause with our largest donation totaling $5,000, and our smallest, still a generous $18. Most families have donated $1250, which is one per cent the cost of the truck. The donation doesn't need to be paid in full until September 30, 2011. Remember: If charity cost nothing, the world would be full of philanthropists (an old Jewish proverb; I wish I thought of that line first!).
Please consider joining me on this cause. Please consider also joining me on our mission trip to Israel in 2012 to see the dedication of our truck, and look into the eyes of the Israeli townspeople who will thank us for allowing them to benefit on the account of your generosity.