8 Jan 2009

Dear Friends of a Package from Home,

Sadly, Israel is again engaged in war with an enemy who indiscriminately shoots Kassam, Katyusha and Grad rockets into the immediate areas surrounding the Gaza Strip endangering the lives of Israeli citizens and disrupting a peaceful life.

To eliminate that threat, once again, Israel’s young men and women are massed on the Gazan border preparing to safeguard the lives of Israelis. Their continued dedication and bravery needs our support.

On Saturday night, December 27, 2008, I received a call from our contact with the Army, Lt.-Col Tzvika Levy. He informed me that there were 1,000 soldiers at the border who needed to receive a "Package from Home".

On Sunday morning, December 28, 2008, we arranged for the delivery of the items which were to be included in the packages: two pair of socks, ski hat, neck warmer, energy bars, chocolate, bamba, hard candy, letters of encouragement and support in English, Hebrew, Russian and Amharic and other kinds of creature comforts (Deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, lotions, etc) which were brought to Israel by visitors in their suit cases when they came to visit the Country. We contacted our volunteers and we were ready to pack the next day.

On Monday morning all of the items were delivered to my living room and that afternoon at about 1PM our volunteers started to pack. By 4 PM that afternoon they had packed 1,000 packages. The packages were ready for pick-up.

The Army sent 2 trucks to pick them up and by 9PM that evening the packages were delivered to the Gaza border and were distributed to the soldiers. A little later that evening, I received a number of cell phone calls from the soldiers thanking me for our immediate response to their request. Their Commander called and told me how important these packages were in lifting the soldier’s morale.

We were able to respond this quickly because of your support. We had enough funds on hand to cover the cost of this packing and we still have enough funds on hand to cover the cost of the next packing which will take place on Thursday, January 1, 2009. At that time, we will be packing another 700 packages for delivery to the front. These packages will include, in addition to the items listed above, long underwear set, a pair of boxer shorts and a package of 80 wet wipes.

We would not have been able to respond this quickly without the support that you have given the soldiers over the last 8 years, but after Thursday’s packing, we will not have enough funds to continue to send more than a few packages at a time.

Today the army issued a Tzav Shmone (emergency call up) to reserve units. The need to support the soldiers is increasing. In order to be able to continue to respond to the needs of our solders facing an intractable enemy, we turn to you again and ask for your help.

97% of all funds received are used to pay for the goods that are included in the packages. All of our packers are volunteers. Our packing place is made available to us without charge by Beit Knesset Hanassi, the office is in my home and printing and postal charges are paid by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. Our only expense is one part time Project Manager.

Warmest wishes for the New Year

Barbara Bloom Silverman
Founder of a Package from Home

11 Jan 2009

Dear Friends of a Package from Home

The other day an article appeared in the Jerusalem Post about the work of a Package from Home. By 1 PM more than 100 people came to the Bet Knesset Hanasi to help us pack. 20 were our regular packers and the balance were newcomers who wanted to do something to help our soldiers. Within two hours, they had packed 1300 packages for combat soldiers in Gaza. The packages were picked up and delivered to the front. Since the beginning of the war, 16 days ago, we have packed and delivered more than 4,300 packages. By evening, I started to receive many telephone calls of thanks from the soldiers and commanders.

One soldier said he had been in his tank for six days before it was safe to come out. He said that when he came out he sat himself on top of his tank and began to open up his Package from Home. When he saw the package of 80 wet wipes he quickly took off his boots and stockings and began to wipe his feet with them. He said, “I know the word in Russian to express the feeling I had, and I know the word in Hebrew, but I do not know the word in English to express the joy I felt.” He said he called us to say his whole tank unit wanted to express its appreciation for the fantastic Packages from Home. He asked me to tell the people who made the packages possible that the tank crews bless them with Elef Brachot (a thousand blessings.)

Another call came from Commander L. He described the joy of his troops when they saw the packages being unloaded from the trucks. The soldiers opening their packages began to shout “maxim, maxim” (the Hebrew slang for fantastic, the best.) I heard their shouts of joy on my cell phone. I asked him how many more packages he needed. His response was simply "Barbara, keep packing."

A Golani soldier told me that when a soldier eats the sweets from the package he is nourished by the thought that people from around the world made these packages possible and it gives him hizuk (strength) to face whatever comes.

I hope that this sample of the many responses I receive each night after a packing will give you a sense of the appreciation felt by the soldiers when they receive the packages.

Yesterday, 45 yeshiva boys from Shvilai HaTorah in Jerusalem hosted a packing of another 1030 Packages from Home for combat soldiers plus an additional 70 packages for the newly wounded. (see attached letter written about this packing from Rabbi Dan Jacobson) The packages for the wounded soldiers were specially put together because some of the wounded had lost limbs and others had lost the ability to chew and swallow.

As I write this, the sound of the army helicopters is overhead as they deliver the wounded soldiers to Hadassah Hospital. May Hashem protect Am Yisrael and our soldiers.

Next week, we will follow the orders of Commander L. We will continue to pack. Your support makes it possible.

I wish you a Shabbat shalom and as the soldiers say, Elef Brachot.

Barbara Bloom Silverman
Founder of a Package from Home

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