Jewish Journal


April 17, 2008

Holidays, happiness and hope for Sderot


Daniel Rubin, left, and Ari Platt, organizers of the carnival

Daniel Rubin, left, and Ari Platt, organizers of the carnival

When Ari Platt spent a Shabbat in Sderot and saw the depleted condition of civic life there, he knew he had to do something.

In only a few weeks, the Los Angeles native, currently studying at Yeshivat HaKotel in Jerusalem, decided to organize a Purim carnival for the town of Sderot -- a reprieve from their harsh reality for a day of festivity, spirit and celebration. He galvanized support from the Jewish communities in Los Angeles and Israel, despite warnings from his yeshiva that he was embarking on a dangerous mission.

Platt wrote a letter requesting financial support for his plan and sent it to everyone he knew, including Rabbi Elazar Muskin of Young Israel of Century City, where Platt and his family belong. Muskin helped circulate his message and the community responded in kind -- donations poured in from local community members, including Baruch Littman and The Jewish Community Foundation. Platt raised nearly $20,000.

The result of Platt's efforts was a lavish Purim carnival with all the holiday trappings: music, booths, dancing, apple-bobbing, arts and crafts and games.

Grateful for the generosity of the community here and in Israel, Platt wrote the following thank-you note to the people who helped support his vision:

Being that Purim and the month of Adar is about being marbim b'simcha [increasing joy], I felt that a carnival was what the doctor ordered. The Sderot carnival on Wednesday, March 19, 2008 was a huge success; it was an event that really confirmed what Am Yisrael is about: a total of 170 volunteers -- overseas and Israeli students -- participated in the event, and a staggering 400 children from Sderot enjoyed the Simchat Purim.

"With some of the remaining funds we were able to give the children of Sderot other gifts; things for the schools and games for when the children are forbidden to leave the building when the Qassams fall.

"The most amazing achievement of the day was the interaction between the students from all the various yeshivot and seminaries across the country with the children of Sderot, as well as the feedback from the community saying that because of our carnival they were able to have a Purim sameach. Sderot is not some desolate place, but a city filled with 18,000 residents like you and me.

"It really has been a remarkable achievement the way so many Jews from across the world united together to show our support for Sderot, to show our support for Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael. We have learned to appreciate that no matter where or what is happening in the world, we will always be united and we will always share each other's hearts, thoughts and dreams.

Thank you,
Ari Platt

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