In just a few weeks it will be the Feast of Trumpets, also celebrated as Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year. We will receive the New Year 5781 on the evening of September 18th.
This is one of the happiest days in Israel. Tables are set, feasts are prepared. Various biblical blessings are proclaimed. To symbolize God’s sweet provision for the new year, apples with honey and pomegranate fruit are eaten. The Shofar horn is blown to remind us of the upcoming Day of Atonement/Judgement.
This year, because of the Corona crisis, this festival will be more humble and small for many families. Even more families have now joined the families that were badly off before the Corona crisis. In some families both parents have lost their jobs.
We would like to help these families, and by so doing, continue the good deeds of one amazing young Israeli woman who is no longer with us: “Shir.”
An Amazing Young Israeli Woman – Shir
Shir Hajaj was a 22-year-old IDF officer-in-training, who loved to help others!
Herzl and Meirav Hajaj were proud of their exemplary daughter Shir – the eldest of four daughters. “Shir” (pronounced “sheer”) means song in Hebrew. She always had very high grades at school and earned her high school diploma with honors. She enrolled at Azrieli College and participated in a project of development research on semiconductors, consisting of four materials that, when lit, generate electricity. The research was extremely relevant for solar cells. Shir performed excellently in this project and graduated with distinction from the Faculty of Materials Engineering at Azrieli College.
Shir had grown up in a loving home, often struggling with financial difficulties. She was aware that not only did she need financial support, but others had to struggle to survive as well. In her spare time, she dedicated herself to students from 5-6 different schools in Maale Adumim who had learning difficulties. Many of these students owe their high school diploma to her effort.
Shir not only helped these young people but, for a year, she voluntarily assisted a Holocaust survivor. She visited every Thursday, helped with doing shopping, kept her company, and helped wherever she could.
Then she was called up by the IDF for her compulsory military service.
Shir was assigned to an intelligence unit, the 81st Technology Unit, founded in 1961 to find solutions for specific complex issues. Many soldiers from this unit have, over the years, been awarded the Order of the Chief of the General Staff. The unit has also won many Israeli Security Awards. The 33rd award was given to Unit 81 for an operation in which Shir participated. After serving in this unit for 2 months, Shir began an officer’s course.
Two weeks before the end of her officer’s course, Shir was killed. Her life was cut short in the “ramming” terrorist attack on January 8, 2017 on the Haas Promenade in southern Jerusalem. Israel’s Prime Minister, Defense Minister, Chief of the General Staff and President each visited the family to personally convey their condolences.
Shir’s parents sought a way to commemorate her and to deal with their grief. So they formed an organization honoring her. This organization aims to carry on the good deeds that Shir started. Two of the organization’s goals are distributing food baskets for low-income families and organizing lessons for scholars with learning difficulties.
Food baskets are donated by parents and students from Maale Adumim and every other week are collected, packed and distributed by a different high school class. At the beginning of the project the number of baskets distributed numbered 26 and now stands at 150 every two weeks.
Please join in as we join Shir in responding to the needy in Israel.