During a Saturday, Aug. 2 service at Chabad Lubavitch of Riverdale, concern was strong among congregants as Israel was immersed in the heaviest fighting it has seen in years.
One member of the synagogue called for donations for a mobile bomb shelter in Ashdod, which had endured frequent rocket attacks from Hamas militants since conflict broke out in July.
Members soon decided to make donations on the spot. One person after another stood up to promise checks of several hundred dollars each.
Rabbi Levi Shemtov said within six minutes, his congregation had raised about $8,000.
“It’s unprecedented,” Rabbi Shemtov said of a recent wave of donations for the bomb shelter and other Israeli causes. “We’re seeing a unity, a connection, a commitment that Jews in our community have toward Israel.”
Riverdale Lifeline to Israel organized the drive for the bomb shelter in Ashdod. Leaders of the loosely organized non-profit said they exceeded their goal of raising $18,000 for the facility in two weeks, ending up with $21,257 by Aug. 15.
“It really is an amazing feeling,” said Inbal Haimovich, whose mother founded Riverdale Lifeline to Israel. “You’re not just throwing money at some organization. That goal is set and it’s met and it’s physical and you know exactly what’s going to happen when that money arrives.”
Ms. Haimovich said Lifeline will send a check to the mayor of Ashdod’s office at the end of the month, with the bomb shelter expected to be ready in the first or second week of September.
Sy and Carole Oshinsky helped organize the fundraiser and spread the word at Riverdale’s many synagogues. Like Ms. Haimovich, they have family in Ashdod, Israel’s fifth biggest city.