This letter was written last week in response to a letter that WRJ-North America sent WRJ-Israel reminding them that “stronger together” is more than a tagline on WRJ’s website, but a pledge to help each other during times of need like now—the escalating violence in Israel.

by Alex Cicelsky

While we on Kibbutz Lotan are located geographically outside of the areas that are directly impacted by the violence stemming from Gaza, we of course are connected directly by family, friends and national interest in what is happening there. Our prayers go to our children, our soldiers, who on the front lines and all those on both sides of the conflict that simply want to live in peace.

Kibbutz Lotan has become, along with the other kibbutzim in our region, a refuge for women and their children needing a respite from the constant dangers. Our houses and guest accommodations (we wish we had more to offer) are filled and offered gratis. Most are people we’ve never seen before but some of them are quite familiar:  Shnat Sheirut (an Israeli gap-year leadership training program) participants from years past who have brought their children here. They desperately need a rest from the sirens and missiles, but there is no real rest as their husbands and fathers remain at home or are part of the IDF, and thus the future remains uncertain.

NFTY’s Netzer Year participants are living in the EcoCampus alongside our Peace, Justice, and Environment College  students in order to free up houses on the kibbutz for more families from the Gaza region. This past weekend, we had another group of NFTY’s Netzer students and NFTY-EIE High School in Israel students visit, too.

Let’s hope this ends very, very quickly.

Alex Cicelsky is Director of Research and Development for the Center for Creative Ecology at Kibbutz Lotan in the Negev Desert and works with WRJ of Kibbutz Lotan.