Wartime Unity in Beit Tovei Ha’ir

Beit Tovei Ha’Ir is more than a Senior Residence in Jerusalem – it’s a warm and cohesive community of like-minded religious retirees, who stand (or sit!) together in times of trouble. Over 70% of the residents are English-speakers, and most of them have grandchildren either serving or volunteering in some meaningful way.

Beit Tovei is the most secure and well-protected residence in Central Jerusalem, with round-the-clock security and protected rooms in case of missile warnings. Our calm and supportive staff are dedicated to ensuring the well-being of every resident. There is a warm and homey environment, particularly on Shabbat, when the residents gather for services and meals within the Residence. The dining room on Shabbat was set up with round tables to enable people to chat comfortably and support one another, with no resident left sitting alone.

During the past few Shabbatot, with Israel under attack, we have united together for communal candle-lighting, tefillot and meals, to raise our spirits. We daven together for peace, for the success and safety of our soldiers, for the recovery of all those who have been injured, and for the safe and speedy return of the hostages. After the communal Kiddush on Shabbat, we invited a group of English-speaking residents to get together for a chat. They enjoyed sharing proud stories of their grandchildren’s exploits, and of their own war-related experiences. Rabbi Yirmiyahu Ullman, who is himself from Miami, FL, gives uplifting shiurim in English every Shabbat.

Beit Tovei has a public coffee shop with cozy corners where friends and family members can gather to chat, catching up with news of loved ones who are serving on the front line or “keeping the home fires burning”, to borrow a British wartime expression.

Keeping Busy with Mitzvot

Last week, on Erev Rosh Chodesh, we gathered to say special tefillot for Yom Kippur Katan, together with all of Klal Yisrael. There are regular tefillot and tehillim groups taking place, where residents can tap into the amazing spiritual energy and positivity than pervades the Residence. We do whatever we can to help assuage the very natural concerns that people have about the security situation in our precious country.

At the same time, we try to keep busy with whatever helpful activities we can. The women have been baking challot for the soldiers serving on the front lines, and packing gift bags for their wives and families waiting anxiously at home. Residents are sitting together to write personal hand-written notes to tell “our boys and girls” that their adopted Bubbas and Zeidys, Sabas and Saftas, are all davening for their safety.

We have invited many inspiring guest speakers to share words of encouragement and provide helpful insights during these difficult times, including Rabbi Shalom Hammer who speaks about his daughter Gila and the many challenges facing today’s young people. Rabbanit Rachelle Fraenkel addressed the women on the Yartzheit of Rochel Imenu. She is a world-renowned Torah teacher and also the mother of Naftali Fraenkel, one of the three boys who was kidnapped and murdered in 2014. Her inspiring words reminded all of us of the importance of Achdut (Jewish unity) in times of national crisis.

The Power of Unity

Living in Israel when the country is at war is usually more inspiring than concerning. Feeling the strength of a supportive community is reassuring to every individual and couple. The greatest strength of the Beit Tovei Ha’ir community is just being together. Every resident has the choice at all times to sit and listen to the news in their room, to say Tehillim privately, or to gather together with other residents to pray and to chat, and to support one another during these difficult times. Based on the number of people we see in the various lounge areas around the Residence, there is lots of chizuk being shared here every day and late into the evenings!

Emanuel Globerman, CEO of Beit Tovei, says: “Having lived together during the COVID pandemic, our residents and our staff have developed the resilience to support one another through good times and bad. Who could have anticipated that just 18 months after the COVID restrictions were lifted, we would be called upon to support our soldiers in a war to ensure the survival of the Jewish nation? With hindsight, the pandemic helped to prepare us in many ways and strengthened our community spirit.”

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