In 2004, when I moved from London to Tel Aviv, aged 31, with no local friends, no job and no plan, so many confused Israelis asked me: “Why did you leave London and come to this crazy place?”
And to me it was simple. Israel is my home. My heart. My love.
I didn’t really have the vocabulary to explain the emotional connection I felt then, and, 19 years on, I don’t have the vocabulary to explain the sheer devastation that I feel now.
As the horror unfolded on Saturday morning, I knew that my world had changed, that my son’s world had changed, and that the Jewish people’s world had changed for ever.
Israel is a small country.
There isn’t a single one of us who isn’t connected to a mourning family or a survivor of the music festival or to someone who is missing or wounded or fighting for Israel’s survival. We feel their despair. And we weep for their loss.
Smoke billows in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon after a rocket attack (Photo: Getty Images)
We try not to ask: “How?” There is time for that later. Rather we ask: “What can we do?”
And as helpless as you may be feeling in the UK watching these terrible events unfold, there ARE things you can do.
Keep your social media accounts active. Share what you feel. Keep sending personal messages of love and support to your friends and family in Israel. We might not be able to reply to each one, but we feel your love and it helps carry us.
We also see so many monuments across the world lit up in blue and white in solidarity with Israel. And it helps.
We see the pro-Israel rallies across the world and the vigils and the world leaders speaking out in support of us. And it helps.
As the head of the UK charity Myisrael, I only know how to do what I’ve been doing for the last 15 years — provide a direct route for people in the UK and around the world who want to help.
The requests we’re receiving feel endless right now.
Units of soldiers on the northern border who need waterproof clothing, mattresses to sleep on and phone chargers so that they can keep in touch with their families.
Thousands of reservists who need underwear and hot food.
Israeli donates blood at a hospital in Tel Aviv (Photo: Getty Images)
Ambulance workers in the south who urgently require protective clothing, which has been completely used up and needs to be sourced from further afield.
And then there’s the unimaginable psychological impact of this war.
We already have thousands of young people who were face to face with terrorists at the music festival, who fled for their lives under fire, witnessing horrors no person should ever know.
Thousands more who have lost loved ones or don’t know whether they’ll ever see them again. And hundreds of thousands of children who have experienced trauma as they’ve rushed to shelters in the face of rocket attacks.
Myisrael launched an emergency appeal last weekend that has so far received more than £60,000 in donations.
And we’re handling these funds in the only way we know how. We are verifying each request. We are checking that the funds aren’t being raised in other communities. That the items needed are available for purchase.
That the logistics exist for them to reach the necessary destination. We are making sure that every penny donated will have maximum impact and we’re creating a fund to help with the devastating trauma that our small nation will be facing in the weeks and months to follow.
Please know that the outpouring of support from the UK community is felt here. Please continue to show your solidarity. Please continue to support our efforts. And please do so in the knowledge that you can make a difference. Am Yisrael Chai.
Danielle Franks is founder and CEO of Myisrael