Jewish Life Kolot

KOLOT – Saving Jewish Lives

By Ina Silverman

Last summer a man attempted to detonate bombs on the light rail train in Jerusalem. Security guards noticed something amiss and foiled the plan, saving many lives on the crowded train. Reports noted that one of the security guards was Druze.

I was amazed to suddenly realize that non-Jews put their lives on the line every day as guards throughout Israel. Foiled attacks are almost a daily occurrence in the country and we don’t hear about them all. It was also jarring to realize the train bombs would have detonated on a downtown Jerusalem block I know well.

Then I thought, “Some rich American Jew should put together a fund to reward non-Jews who save Jewish lives.” We all expect Jewish soldiers, ubiquitous in Israel, and uniformed police to keep us safe. That is their job. But what motivates non-Jews to put their lives on the line to protect Jews, and other residents, in the Jewish homeland?

When I mentioned this to a friend, she said, “Why wait for rich Jews to get around to giving money from their philanthropic funds? Why not bypass the bureaucracy and do it ourselves directly?” Why not, indeed.

I contacted friends in the community and within a very short time we had raised some money. I contacted the Jerusalem light rail folks and asked what the best way would be to let the guards know how much we, far away in Connecticut, appreciate what they do every day. We decided to host a pool party and barbeque for the security guards.

Another friend translated a heartfelt letter to the guards into Hebrew, we wired the money, and looked forward to hearing about the event. Officials in Jerusalem’s city hall and in various security departments in the city seemed astounded that a small group of Jews so far away would want to thank frontline guards for their service. They sent us photos of the employees enjoying the pool party.

Every so often take a moment to say a prayer for the good health and wellbeing of lowly security guards, here and in Israel, who anonymously keep us and the Jewish family safe as we go about our daily lives.

Ina Silverman is the principal of the Beth El-Keser Israel religious school in New Haven.

Readers are invited to submit original work on a topic of their choosing to Kolot. Submissions should be sent to

CAP: Employees enjoying the pool party.

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