Metulla, Israel, is all but deserted today.
As mortars, rocket artillery and missiles are launched by terror groups into Northern Israel, the Israeli military has evacuated border towns and has ramped up operations in the north, with thousands of armored vehicles making their way to the area.
In Metulla, several thousand feet from the border with Lebanon, Rabbi Moshe and Bracha Leah Sasonkin have spent decades manning Chabad’s northernmost post in Israel—Chabad of Metulla, which they founded in 1990. Despite growing challenges and the evacuation of the area, Chabad of Metulla has been on the ground providing vital support. After seeing his wife and family to safety in the northern town of Afula, Rabbi Moshe Sasonkin returned to Metulla, checking in with the soldiers to see what they needed and offering them the opportunity to put on tefillin in between red alert sirens.
Since the evacuation, the Sasonkins have been in touch with community members, ensuring that they are cared for during this upheaval. They’ve also visited families who have lost loved ones to terrorist attacks. The Sasonkins received thousands of letters and cards addressed to Israel’s soldiers, and Rabbi Moshe Sasonkin plans in the coming days to distribute them to the forces defending Israel’s northern border.
Working Day and Night in the Golan
In the Golan Heights, as reserves flow in and tanks rumble toward the border, Rabbi Sholom Ber Hertzel of Chabad of the Golan Heights isn’t getting much rest. “We are here the entire day and night in the Golan, reaching out to soldiers anywhere and everywhere,” Hertzel told Lubavitch.com, speaking as he exited a shelter, following a red alert in response to suspected terrorist infiltration.
“We have a logistics center where people are bringing things and we are providing them to the soldiers. We have two food trucks to improve morale with free food; a meat truck and a dairy and pareve truck,” Hertzel detailed. The trucks circulate from base to base across the Golan Heights, offering kosher food and the joy that accompanies every visit from the “Chabadnikim,” as the shluchim are often referred to.
Soldiers line up for made-on-the-spot sandwiches and meals, and those awake at night especially appreciate the cups of freshly-brewed espresso, the beans ground on the spot.
Chabad of the Golan is also working to provide for the soldiers beyond their physical needs, providing pairs of tefillin and putting them on together with the soldiers, providing tzitzit, gathering the soldiers to perform the mitzvah of separating challah, and generally doing their best to boost morale.
“Yes, we are outside our homes doing our shlichus, doing what’s needed right now, the entire day and night, giving whatever the soldiers need, and encouraging the Jewish Nation.”