Mitzvah Maker – Roy

Roy, with daughter Carmel, in the Carmel

A true hero talks with GTJ’s Noa Levanon about Israel’s recent fire.  To see Roy’s narrative of the event, click here.

Why was it so important for you to volunteer? It’s my home.  You have to protect your home.  I love the Carmel and its natural beauty.  We named our daughter after this place.  There was no other choice I could have made but to help.

Tell us a little bit about the volunteers up there with you. There were many volunteers.  Not only those who jumped into the flames, but also those from youth movements who came to protect the rescued homes, to bring up food and to support us in every way they could.

How much do you think infrastructure problems had to do with the fire? During forest fires, it’s hard to get to a lot of the flames without aerial firefighting.  Because Israel didn’t have any firefighting planes, we had to rely on outside help.  Regardless, we didn’t have the manpower to deal with the fire and, even with the planes, it took an extremely long time to douse the flames completely.

Where do you think rehabilitation should be focused? Rehabilitation efforts need to be focused on the residential communities that were hit, particularly the Yemin Orde youth village, which desperately needs funds and supplies.  Nature knows how to rehabilitate itself.

What should be done to help Israel, following this tragedy? It’s important that we learn not only operational lessons about firefighting in Israel, but also greater, conceptual lessons about the importance of environmentally aware behavior.  It is extremely worrisome that we, as a nation, have not spent enough time or thought on how to protect one of the few natural forests remaining in Israel. Our increasing distance from nature is a greater disaster than the fire.  As I said, natural habitats rehabilitate themselves. However, I am worried about our lack of appreciation for nature. The Carmel is one of the most beautiful places on earth – a forest kissing the sea.  It is home to such a great variety of trees, plants, insects and birds.  For me, one of the hardest moments during the fire was hearing the desperate cries of the birds as the forest went up in flames.

Yemin Orde youth village

Therefore, the real rehabilitation effort needs to focus on education.  Only when today’s youth – i.e. tomorrow’s decision-makers – start to appreciate nature and internalize the importance of Israel’s natural habitat will they be able to come to the correct decisions on how to protect the Carmel for future generations.

In the short-term, the most important effort – and one that highlights the importance of education – should be in helping the Yemin Orde youth village, which was almost completely decimated by the fire.  This is an incredibly important place, an educational community for children of immigrants and at-risk youth.  All immediate rehabilitation efforts should begin there, by providing funds and supplies to help them rebuild.  By helping them rebuild, we begin investing where it’s important – not in new airplanes, but in education and values.

If you are interested in helping the Yemin Orde youth village, donate here.

Translated by GTJ Staff Member Noa Levanon.