As Israel grapples with the fallout of war, New Jersey native Aryeh Berger, 30, is among the many new volunteers who’ve joined Yad Sarah as part of its nation-wide emergency relief efforts.
Mere days after the October 7 onslaught by Hamas, Aryeh underwent immediate training as a driver for Yad Sarah’s nechnoit (wheelchair-accessible van) unit, and set out on a journey of compassion and service.
With over 120,000 individuals displaced from the war, thousands have found interim lodgings at hotels in the Dead Sea area. In the initial days of their arrival, people were overwhelmed and scrambling to get critical supplies and care they needed in the aftermath of evacuation.
Aryeh is among the nechnoit drivers who have been transporting donations and shuttling displaced individuals in the Dead Sea hotels area, as many had to leave their own cars behind during evacuation.
His activities include transporting evacuees to medical appointments, pharmacies, and Yad Sarah’s new pop-branch in the Dead Sea hotels area, established to provide the influx of victims of war from southern Israel with medical equipment and supplies. On one day, Aryeh provided 10 rides for evacuees to access necessary medical care.
In one particularly poignant moment, he reunited with old friends who’d been evacuated from Kibbutz Saad in the hard-hit Gaza border communities. He had previously met some of the residents while working at Camp Moshava in the US.
“Since we’d met, I kept in touch with the group from Saad. We called each other on occasion. I had just seen them this summer, so I was relieved to be able to see them in person after the horrible ordeal,” Aryeh recalled.
His connection to Camp Moshava didn’t end there. On another day of service, he delivered supplies donated by the camp to another driver who transported it from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. The contributions included a printer, ink, and a computer for the evacuees from Kibbutz Saad, all aimed at supporting children’s education since they are not able to attend their schools.
“Just going and doing something that’s making a difference and seeing people happy at the end of it makes it all worth it,” he concluded.