While the media showed the images of the fires on the Carmel two weeks ago, many Israelis decided to not just sit still but take action by helping the people who lost their homes. Over 10,000 people contacted "Lev Echad" operation center in Jerusalem requesting to volunteer and help the people living in the Carmel.
“What you do for yourself goes with you to the grave. What you do for others stays forever” (anonymous). Eli Weissbart, spokesman of “Lev Echad,” quotes this while trying to explain why so many people wanted to volunteer and help.
While the fire was still burning,“Lev Echad” organized the volunteers in 4 gathering points. At the same time a representative of "Lev Echad" was sent to the front command post to be a liaison between “Lev Echad” and the authorities. Once all preparations were made “Lev Echad” received its assignments and started mobilizing its troops.
"Lev Echad" (which means "one heart") considers itself as "an army of citizens who will volunteer in a crisis". The major resource of this organization is the people’s good will. “It is not trivial that a person will suddenly leave everything: work, home, family and friends, and go help others” says Eli Weissbart. Eli did just that, left everything and went to the Carmel. He recalls an incident where he and a fellow volunteer met a man standing outside his home gazing. They approached the man and learned that he was mentally ill and had no way of getting his medicine. Eli and his companion took the man and drove with him for two and half hours in search of a place to get his medicine.
“Lev Echad” takes pride in its connections with the authorities and its unique way of activating its volunteers. Since its establishment 4 and half years ago the organization has learned to deal with all sorts of crisis situations and with different amounts of volunteers. “Lev Echad's" goal is to be an effective tool in the hand of the authorities, to help where needed, and to manage volunteers.
The Carmel tragedy has shown us how much we are dependant on each other as a society. Our strength lies in the people who are willing to put themselves on the line for others.