The most beautiful Shabbat

Last Friday night, the entire religious community of Halamish – more than 1500 people – were forced to evacuate as fires surrounded their town. Those who could get to their vehicles picked up others, piling 7-8 people in every car. Many had never driven on Shabbat in their whole lives. Within minutes, residents had knocked on every door, helped every person with difficulties and evacuated the town completely. At 11pm everyone drove to Ofarim, another nearby small town, where local residents opened their doors. Every single person from Halamish was taken in by Ofarim families, and many later described it – surprisingly - as “the most beautiful Shabbat of their lives.” Hosts made prepared food for their Shabbat lunches “stretch” as they shared meals with additional families that they had never before met. That day, on Halamish, was supposed to be the barmitzvah of one young resident. Instead, the 13-year-old read the weekly portion in the Ofarim synagogue, surrounded by his entire evacuated town, as well as all of the residents of Ofarim. Attendees say that there wasn’t a single dry eye in the room. Sadly, when news came through at the conclusion of Shabbat, Halamish residents learned that 15 houses had been burnt to the ground, and a further 25 were unlivable. Despite this, the only real thought that residents were expressing over and again was, “Thank God that nobody was hurt.


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