By: Avital Stern-Buchnick
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Ensuring safety and security is vital for the Gush Etzion community of Sde Bar. Located among several hostile Arab villages, the people of Sde Bar have grown accustomed to staying alert, especially while driving on roads adjacent to their community. Just ask Rivi Lev Ohayon, a young woman who survived a lynching attempt on the Sde Bar-Jerusalem road.
She was the first car in a line of traffic when she saw a violent Arab mob on the side of the road. “I saw that one of the men had a very large stone in hand” she recounts. “I did not know if my windshield was protected against rock throwing, so I debated in those seconds whether to continue driving ahead or to turn back. I decided I would not take the risk of passing them because they could have so easily broken my side window and hit me in the head with one of the large boulders. In that moment I decided to try and turn back for home.”
As Rivi slowed down to make the turn, ten terrorists jumped on her car. “They blew out my front windshield, cutting my head, and breaking my back window. Then one terrorist managed to open my door and tried pulling me out of the car.” At that moment, Rivi says, she looked death in the eyes. “I begged for my life. I do not know what happened to him, but he fell backwards, I closed the door and turned back for home.” Rivi immediately called the police and soon was on her way to the hospital in an ambulance.
Rivi’s brush with death is far too familiar a story in her neck of the woods. In an environment where such horrific incidents against Jews occur on a consistent basis, being prepared for an emergency is a necessity. Residents of Sde Bar have learned to lock their car doors with a central lock when they travel to and from their community. They also know to keep an eye on the horizon and stay alert to any unusual sights on the road.
The people of Sde Bar take these precautions on the roads and when it comes to protecting their community, they do not compromise. The nearby IDF (Israel Defense Forces) forces, and the community’s rapid response team are on constant alert. And since they are such a young community, there is a lot they still need before they will feel completely safe. This year, the people of Sde Bar have asked CFOIC Heartland to help them purchase night-vision binoculars, walkie-talkies, stretchers, medical equipment and other protective aids. By helping with these vital needs you are helping give this community peace of mind.
But Sde Bar is more than just a vulnerable community located in a hostile region. Sde Bar is a magical place. Not far from the ancient fortress of Herodian, where King Herod’s palace looked over the mountains of Moab, Sde Bar overlooks the majestic Judean Desert. The community started twenty years ago as a youth village for homeless and abandoned children, who had lost all confidence in society, and who, but for Sde Bar, would be alone on the streets.
It became a warm, nurturing home for lost children. Years ago, CFOIC Heartland was deeply involved in supporting this wonderful initiative. In fact, a large percentage of the graduates were rehabilitated, completed their matriculation requirements, served in the IDF, and went on to lead normal, fulfilling lives. This was a true testament to the success of this wonderful place.
After some years the youth village was closed, but recently, Sde Bar became a regular community, and the youth villages’ founder, Yossi Sadeh, still lives in Sde Bar, as a member of the community. Sde Bar residents are a truly heterogeneous group, both religious and non-religious, and from a wide range of professions, from social workers, therapists, builders and policemen. The number of children in the community is rapidly growing. This year, in addition to emergency needs, the community has also asked for our help providing play equipment and games for their play center.
There are many private ventures and initiatives that enrich the community including a charming petting zoo, a boutique dairy farm, and an equestrian therapy center. I actually had the opportunity to taste cheeses from the Sde Bar dairy farm recently, and recommend it to anyone who appreciates good cheese. This community has a special dream to create an artisan village which will integrate at-risk teens in all these wonderful businesses.
The possibilities for this idealistic, motivated community are endless. But none of this can happen if they do not have peace of mind living where they live. Please consider helping make the people of Sde Bar feel safe and secure so they can continue their important work in God’s Promised Land.