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Concert raises money for Israeli city

Haledon, NJ — Sending money to Israel wasn’t enough. That feeling brought close to 100 area Jews out Sunday night for a “solidarity concert” to show their support for Israelis whose homes were damaged in the recent 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah.

“We can send donations by mail, but to express solidarity in person, it’s what we want to do,” said Boris Medwood, 54, of Wayne. “It’s solidarity with the struggle of the people in Israel, with their suffering, and with the unfair treatment by most of the countries of the world with the exception of the United States.”

Concertgoers ate hot dogs and hamburgers, then settled onto white wooden benches to clap along with the songs of Israeli singer Sandy Shmuely, who played guitar backed by drums and keyboard. A few groups grabbed hands and formed circles to dance.

The concert and barbecue, held indoors at Camp Veritans on Pompton Road, raised around $5,000, said organizer Rabbi Michel Gurkov of The Chabad Center of Passaic County. Proceeds will go to families in the northern Israeli city of Nahariya, he said. The city is the sister city of the North Jersey Jewish Federation, and a rabbi friend of Gurkov’s runs a soup kitchen there.

Hezbollah rockets fell on dozens of communities across the northern third of Israel near the border with Lebanon, said Ravi Nessman, an Associated Press reporter in Jerusalem. Along with the coastal city of Nahariya, targets included Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city, border towns including Metullah, and the mixed Arab-Jewish towns of Acre and Maalot-Tarshiha. In southern Lebanon and northern Israel, 120 Israeli soldiers and 39 civilians were killed, and 854 Lebanese were killed in Israeli airstrikes, according to the Associated Press.

Israeli airstrikes destroyed some 15,000 Lebanese homes and displaced 900,000, about a quarter of the country’s population.

Aron Heller, also a reporter in the Associated Press’s Jerusalem bureau, covered the fighting in northern Israel for three weeks. In a phone interview Friday, he described the damage in the city of Kiryat Shemona, where about 1,000 of the 4,000 Hezbollah-fired rockets fell. About 22,000 people live in the city.

Most homes were not destroyed, but suffered fire and smoke damage, cracked walls and smashed windows, Heller said. A warehouse and the city’s mall burned after rocket attacks.

“It was not carpet-bombed like Dresden,” he said. “Lots of building are charred, with black smoke at the entrance, and a lot of the old buildings are cracked.”

Despite the Israeli government’s plans to rebuild areas damaged by Hezbollah rockets, Gurkov said grassroots-level assistance was necessary.

“There’s always going to be people who fall through the cracks,” he said. “A lot of people don’t even have money to buy food. I really wanted the money to go to individuals.”

The war began July 12 when Hezbollah ground forces crossed the border into Israel and attacked Israeli patrols, killing three Israeli soldiers and capturing two. Israel responded by bombing Lebanon’s international airport near Beirut. Fighting continued as Israeli troops crossed into Lebanon to conduct raids and Israeli planes bombed Lebanon, while Hezbollah sent Katyusha rockets into Israeli towns and villages. The conflict ended with a United Nations-brokered cease-fire that went into effect Aug. 14.

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