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OTTAWANS HEAD TO WAR-TORN ISRAEL

Jewish community members want to show solidarity

By Tong Lofaro

A humanitarian concern for the people in Israel is prompting six members of Ottawa’s Jewish community to travel to the war-torn country to offer assistance.

The week-long trip to the northern towns of Israel and to Jerusalem is part of a fact-finding mission to help clean up and rebuild communities, wounded soldiers, offer toys to young children, and, more importantly, to bring much-needed hope to the people.

The members of the mission, Jack Silverstein, Barbara Crook, Arnie Vered, Michael Walsh, Steven Kimmel and Sam Firestone have one aim.

“We want to show solidarity for the people of Israel because they really feel they’re on their own,” said businessman Arnie Vered. “We want to show other Canadians that there is gathering support forIsrael, even though some can’t be there with them.”

Four members—Mr. Silverstein, Mr. Walsh, Mr. Firestone and Mr. Vered—left on the weekend, Mr. Kimmel departs today, while Ms. Crook left last Thursday. The group will be led by a tour guide and the itinerary includes meeting with mayors, and visits to the Metula Hanadiv School in northern Galilee, the Rambam Hospital, where they will talk with wounded soldiers, and the Kiryat Shmona Cemetary, where some tombstones were destroyed by enemy rockets.

Mr. Silverstein said the group will also travel nearJerusalemto pick fruit and vegetables that will be sent to citizens in northernIsraelwho are in desperate need of fresh produce.

The group will also be bringing letter for those now homeless in northern Israel. They’ve collected at least 300 letters of support, as well as drawings by Jewish children in Ottawa, for the soldiers fighting inIsrael.

Mr. Firestone, an Ottawa business man who operates several restaurants in the city, said he wants to see first-hand how Israelis affected by the conflict are rebuilding their lives.

“A lot of people ask me why am I going. Why wouldn’t I go? I think it’s the right thing to do.”

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