It all started with a tour that took place in Dec. 2007, when 40 Israeli and international students studying at IDC Herzliya traveled to Sderot through the initiative of the hasbara organization, Stand with Us. When IDC students, Dana Alman, Leora Lundy and Danielle Weinberg returned back to Herzliya after their tour of Sderot, they felt they had a mission. No longer could they close their eyes to the suffering of western Negev residents living under rocket terror.
Consequently, the organization, Yotzim Me’habuah, (Leaving the Bubble) was born. Members of the group, which includes college students from all over central Israel, share the desire to raise public awareness of the suffering of Qassam terror victims. Numerous meetings and scheduling brought about a three-day Sderot Awareness Campaign at the IDC Herzliya campus.
For three days, IDC Herzliya recreated the rocket reality of Sderot so that students on the college campus could feel what life in Sderot is actually like. Real Qassam rockets that had been fired at Sderot in the recent year were brought to the campus and placed on display. Next to the Sammy Ofer School for Communication, four colorful and decorated Qassams were set up, by the organization “Dira Lehazkir.” These rockets were the fruits of a special art therapy project in Sderot, where children expressed their feelings of living with rocket fire by coloring the rockets.
Throughout the campus, Sderot Media Center photo galleries were set up depicting rare moments captured by the camera lens, where the everyday fear and devastation resulting from rocket attacks typify the community of Sderot.
The group from Yotzim Mehabuah and volunteers from another student organization, Ayalim, visited campus classrooms and presented the Sderot reality as documented by the Sderot Media Center through informational clips and movies for the past year-and-a-half. The team called on students to get involved in a special panel that took place on Apr. 10, 2008, where topics for strengthening the people of Sderot and the western Negev were raised.
The panel discussion concluded the three-day Sderot Awareness campaign with a panel, featuring Sderot residents, Debbie Biton and Sasson Serah, and Sderot Media Center director, Noam Bedein, along with the president of the Sapir College Student Union, David Brennan. From IDC Herzliya, Professor Uriel Reichman, Dr. Boaz Ganor, and Student Union President Ophir Yechazkeli, also spoke.
Brennan, spoke about life on the campus life, where eating lunch on the grass during breaks, is accompanied by Tzeva Adom alert sirens that leave just 15 seconds to find shelter. Brennan also spoke of the great shock the student body of Sapir at the death of a fellow student from a Qassam attack a few weeks prior.
Debbie Biton spoke of the difficult reality of being a mother and raising children under the Qassam rocket fire.
All the panelists agreed that everyone must work to advance and help Sderot, each in their own way, and not to give up.
The next day, another group of IDC students officially toured Sderot. During the tour, there was a critical point where the group experienced mortar shelling 400 meters away during a visit to a viewpoint overlooking Gaza. None of the students were injured and everyone got home safely, but with a bitter taste of the rocket reality in southern Israel.
Yotzim m’Habuah is continuing to initiate projects for Sderot. The group is now working with the local Sderot school, Guntwert, on their graduation ceremony at the end of the year, along with the cooperation of Adi Bardah, a student at Sapir college.
Yotzim m’Habuah functions as part of the IDC Herzliya Student Union and will publicize future projects after the Passover holiday. At this point, there have been a significant number of IDC students who have come up with projects of their own to strengthen the victims of rocket terror.