Gedaliah and Elisheva Blum live with their four children in Eli, a town near Ariel in Samaria, one of the few places in Israel that has not had to deal with the threat of rocket fire from Gaza or Lebanon thus far. But that has not stopped them from getting involved and showing their support for the IDF. As the newest conflagration with Hamas began an idea came to them based upon volunteering they did during the last battle with Hamas in 2012.
During Operation Pillar of Defense the couple had been involved with a small scale enterprise to deliver pizza to soldiers serving in or near Gaza. “The response we received at that time from the soldiers was overwhelming,” as they delivered over 100 pizza’s. “This time,” says an excited Gedaliah, “we will be delivering over 1000 pizza’s.”
The couple, who run a marketing firm that caters to businesses in Judea and Samaria, set up a website last Thursday that allowed people all over the world to donate money in order to buy pizza for soldiers who are yet again serving in or near Gaza. Gedaliah emailed a number of organizations, including Breaking Israel News and Israel365, that would be interested in helping to promote the idea.
“The response that we received from Jews and Christians all over the world was truly remarkable,” said Gedaliah. “Here we have a wide range of people whose only connection is that they all want to help Israel, they all feel connected in some way and therefore help out.”
The couple, who has managed to raise close to $16,000 in just four days from donors all around the world, are ecstatic that they have been able to reach their goal of being able to provide 1,000 pizzas to the IDF. Donations were pouring in by the minute. The two bases that have been selected to receive the pizza are currently home to approximately 3,500 soldiers, almost one tenth of all the reserve soldiers who were called up for Operation Protective Edge.
On Tuesday evening, at the end of the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, a Jewish fast day commemorating the invasion of foreign empires into ancient Jerusalem, and the beginning of the period of destruction of both the First and Second Temples, the Blum’s delivered 960 pizza’s. Several hundred more are to be delivered in the upcoming days.
“The commander of one of the bases which we donated the pizza’s to asked us to bring it towards the end of the fast day as it will be a fitting way to end the commemorative day, with pizza and good cheer,” Gedaliah told Breaking Israel News.
When asked what inspired the pizza drive that has raised almost 20 percent of the cost of an Iron Dome battery, Gedaliah said; “If you see something that needs to be done, you can decide on two possible courses of action: either sit around and wait for someone else to do it, or get up and do it yourself.”
Elisheva characterized themselves by saying “we are go getters, the do it yourself type”.
What makes this pizza drive all the more special is that the pizza stores from whom the Blums bought the pizza’s are in the hardest hit areas of the rocket barrage- Sderot and Ashkelon. These stores, whose business has been all but shut down due to the current situation, no longer enjoy having customers come in and eat. Business for them and many others in these cities has been very slow recently and walk-in customers are unheard of.
“They are the forgotten victims of the conflict, the small businesses,” says Gedaliah. “So it was very important for us to tell the guy who owns the store that the price was not discounted so that we could make sure that in spite of the situation the store owner has a good month,” Elisheva added. “While the main goal is the soldiers, this was an important side point for us,” she said.
The Blum’s previous excursion on the pizza delivery route in November 2012 brought home to them just how thankful the IDF soldiers are for knowing that people in Israel and all over the world are behind them and support them.
The Blums tell stories of how generals broke up a live targeted fire drill from tanks so that the soldiers could eat the pizza that they delivered and enjoy the good cheer, as well as other soldiers who expected to have to pay for the pizza, and upon being told that it was a gift from supporters globally, the soldiers beamed with gladness and unspeakable gratitude for knowing that people were thinking of them.
“Seeing the faces of soldiers who have not eaten in thirty hours due to constantly being on missions light up because they have just received a pizza that was donated for them by people who support them around the world, is truly amazing,” said Gedaliah.
“Ask any commander what the most important thing is for the army and they will say moral. To let them know that whatever hell they are going through, there are people who support them and are behind them, is incredibly important. It is why all the commanders we talk to are very excited about the project,” he said.
The Blums are looking to continue the pizza drive and continue delivering pizza to soldiers beyond the original 1,000 that will was delivered on Tuesday. With the forethought that if a ground invasion is to begin, that is when the pizzas and morale will be needed most.
However, the Blums are not stopping with pizza. They have set out on yet another project to help IDF soldiers.
“When you are successful at one thing, people ask you for another,” Elisheva quips. But the Blums are all too happy to help, and they are not alone.
After seeing the success of the pizza drive, one of the commanders whom the Blums have been in touch with asked if they could help gather underwear, socks and baby wipes for the soldiers who may need to be called up for longer than expected.
They turned to Yiffat Levy, daughter of Rami Levy, owner of a chain of supermarkets and a cell-phone provider in Israel, who owns her own chain of clothing stores attached to her father’s supermarkets.
“We have been in touch with her and she is very happy to help out with the campaign. She is helping to give us the opportunity to really stretch out the dollar as she will be supplying all the items the soldiers need a little bit above cost. When we asked for her help with this, she did not hesitate at all even though her stores won’t be earning anything from it,” said Elisheva.
Gedaliah added: “It is important for us that people realize that there is a return for their investment, whether it is emotional or a simple sense of pride and contribution. To that end I will be making a video and taking lots of pictures to share with all those who donated from all over the world, so they too can share in the joy that they are bringing to the soldiers.”
If you would like to sponsor a pizza or personal hygiene packages for IDF soldiers, click here.