Dozens of residents and members of Chabad of Santa Clarita Valley filled a room in the Newhall temple Tuesday to hear Rabbi Choni Marozov’s stories from the front lines of the conflict in Israel.
Surrounded by 8-x-11 posters with faces of Israelis and the word “KIDNAPPED” in large letters, Marozov discussed some of the horrors he saw and the emotional toll of the conflict, but also the resilience on display, and how the 30 or so Chabad rabbis from around the country shared in Israelis’ hope and optimism.
“Their focus was, ‘We want to live in peace. May God protect us. Pray for us. Do a mitzvah for us. Let us live.’ Because that’s what we do as Jews,” Marozov said. “It’s all about life. It’s all about simplifying the joy of life. We don’t focus on the opposite of life.”
After he heard about the surprise attacks by the Hamas terrorist organization on Oct. 7, he said he had the same reaction as so many other Jewish people, including about 350,000 reservists, who flooded El Al flights in the days following: “I have to go there and see how I can help.”
During his four-day trip, he said he was able to not only listen and offer comfort to those afflicted by the fighting, but he was also able to distribute more than $20,000 raised from the local community directly to those who were impacted in cities along the border.
He shared footage from the trip of one stop, where another rabbi with them had heard about a need for scopes for some of the soldiers. Through encouraging his colleagues like a quick-talking auctioneer, within minutes, the rabbi had collected $15,000 in pledges to purchase the needed equipment.
“We’ve distributed and we’ve made a lot of people smile — you have made a lot of people smile,” he said, speaking to his congregation, “over the last week by providing them with food and with toys.”
There’s still more need as the conflict is ongoing, Marozov said.
A page on the temple’s website has been set up for anyone who wants to donate to the relief effort: chabadscv.com/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/6131615/jewish/Israel-Fund.htm.