Few things are more moving than a community that has come together for a good cause, and in New Mill Basin, a group of women, inspired by love, have managed to raise a whopping $30,000 for the children of Israel in just one afternoon, at their neighborhood bake sale.
Eti Cohen, one of the organizers, opened her home for the event, where rows and rows of tables were piled high with delicacies, from homemade chocolate babka, mandel bread, date strudel, linzer tarts, cupcakes, loaf cakes, challah and sourdough bread to pressed juice, salads and sandwiches donated by local small businesses to express their support.
After the heinous atrocities perpetrated by the Hamas terrorist group took the lives of some 1,200 Jews on October 7th, Israelis living all over the world, and here in our own Brooklyn neighborhoods, were left reeling, their shock and pain further exacerbated by a wave of glaring anti-Semitism that so closely mirrors the sentiment of 1930s Germany and flies in the face of the tolerance and inclusivity which have become the very tenets of our modern society.
“This past month has been excruciating for the Jewish people around the world,” Cohen explained. “For us Israelis, we feel so helpless being away from our families, our country and our people. There isn’t one of us who has been able to sleep, eat or function properly without having the horrible images and knowledge of the atrocities on our minds.” As is often the case when there is a great calamity, people want to help but aren’t sure how.
Having held successful large-scale bake sales in the community before, one of the Mill Basin ladies, Rachel Oscar, suggested that they organize another. “We told all of our friends and family and within minutes we had tons of volunteers to bake, and boy did they bake,” Cohen said. “Such delights that you can’t imagine. They all put their hearts into their work.” She explained that planning and preparing for the event unified the community and became a welcome distraction, keeping those involved busy, so their minds weren’t constantly consumed by worry for their loved ones, replaying the disturbing images the massacre conjures up on repeat.
“We decided to contribute the money to an organization called “Toys for Simcha” based here in New York that has a division in Israel and had already been handing out toys, clothes and essentials to the displaced children of the Kibbuzim who had to leave their homes after the massacre,” Cohen said. “Israelis just want to live in peace and raise their children safely.”
A speaker from the organization shared the stories of some of the children they encountered in their work there – many orphaned, some having actually witnessed the murder of their parents from a crack in a closet door or from underneath a bed. She spoke of the way many fled with only the clothes on their back, terrified and utterly alone. An Israeli Defense Force soldier was also present to discuss the conflict and his own experiences.
“The most important thing is to raise awareness for bringing back home the kidnapped civilians – women, children and the elderly,” Cohen explained. She and other members of the community have been putting up posters of the missing to do just that. “It is of the utmost importance that our message of peace and understanding is shared. It pains me to see the so-called educated young generation of today, follow like sheep and chant slogans they don’t even understand the meaning of,” she said.
“Our Jewish community is outstanding in the way they come together in times of happiness and sorrow. I must mention all of the incredible ladies who truly gave it their all: Yaffa Rosillio, Tali Kraidman, Annie Sidaoui, Irit Aboutboul, Henya Sharafi, Pnina Cohen, Relly Oscar, Shelly Karen, Karen Amar, Joyce Sasson and all of the vendors that donated and many others who gave of their time, money and energy. We truly couldn’t have done it without them.”