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Friday, August 04, 2006

Kids write letters to Israeli soldiers

August 4, 2006

Orian Raviv, 9, carefully drew the feet of an Israeli soldier on a card she was making to send to her homeland.

Had the bombing of Israel started a few days later, she and her brother, Roy, 6, might be in Israel instead of the Chabad of Northern Nevada in Reno writing letters to Israeli soldiers.

"We wanted to do something for Israel," said Sarah Cunin, educational director at Chabad, where nine children, ages 2 to 9, gathered Thursday. "We discussed in prayer how every good deed has a positive reaction globally."

At the Kids of Israel event, each child built a Jewish temple of sugar cubes, prayed and wrote letters that would be sent to a Chabad organization in Israel.

"We just want to bring a smile to the soldiers' faces, so they know that the Jews who don't live in Israel still think about them and appreciate them," said Orian's mother, Estee Raviv.

Orian's family was to go to Israel for an annual summer stay, which included celebrating a relative's bar mitzvah. Plans changed when Raviv saw her hometown of Nahariya, just south of the Lebanese border, bombed on TV.

"We had to cancel our plans because my parents had to leave their home, and there was no place for us to go," Raviv said. "We were going to be there five weeks."

At first, her grandparents had stayed in hotels, but they now are at the house of their son, Orian's uncle, in northern Israel. Another uncle had to flee.

"They're OK," Raviv said. "But it's not easy being away from home for so long and to see your town being bombed and destroyed."

None of this failed to touch Orian, who wrote on her construction-paper card: "Dear soldiers, thank you for saving my grandparents and uncle's house. Please be strong and take care of yourselves. Good luck."

"We're not hiding anything (from the children)," Raviv said. "They know their grandpa and grandma and uncle had to leave."

Danielle Segal's 3-year-old twin daughters, Talya and Mya, worked on cards for the soldiers and one for their father.

"We're doing this to show our support for the soldiers and what's happening in Israel," said Segal, who attended the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1992-93. "It's important that my girls understand who they are and where they come from."

The letter-writing coincided with Tisha B'Av, a holiday commemorating the destruction of two Jewish temples during ancient times.

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