Children from the destroyed community of Moshav Modi'im receive new bikes. (Jonathan Feldstein) (Jonathan Feldstein)
kids with bikes

The bike deliveries, organized by The Genesis 123 Foundation and Run for Zion, returned a sense of normalcy to the residents of Mevo Modi’im, which was destroyed last month in wildfires. 

By Sheri Oz

The third delivery of children’s bikes to children from Mevo Modi’im, a moshav near the city of Modi’in, was made on Friday.

The bikes arrived at Kibbutz Hafetz Haim in central Israel, where families from the moshav are now staying in guest houses since their homes were burned to the ground last month during a massive heat wave. The kibbutz is housing most of the victims of the fires that destroyed over 80% of Mevo Modi’im, established in 1964 by the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Authorities suspect that most of the fires were the work of Arab arson terrorists.

The bike deliveries were organized by the Genesis 123 Foundation and Run for Zion, which sought to help the children achieve a level of normalization after the terrible trauma with which they and their parents are still coping.

Before the wildfires were extinguished in Israel last month, organizations and communities throughout Israel stepped up to help the more than 3,500 people who had been evacuated and displaced from their homes, including the 300 residents of Mevo Modi’im, a community that was completely destroyed.

‘My Mind Immediately Turned to the Children’

Watching the disaster unfold, Jonathan Feldstein, president of the Genesis 123 Foundation and RunforZion.com, told United with Israel (UWI) how he sat in his Judean mountain home far from the fires wondering what he could do.

“As a father of six, he said, “my mind immediately turned to the children. The trauma they were going through would be severe and would be exacerbated by their parents’ own trauma and loss.  Parents faced the dual burden of rebuilding their lives and helping their children.”

The Genesis 123 Foundation and Run for Zion launched a campaign to raise money for new toys, as helping to make the kids happy would certainly provide respite and relief for the parents.

This week they made inroads in that goal with three separate deliveries of 17 bicycles to Hafetz Haim.  The donations came from Christians around the world and a bicycle store that offered the new bikes at prices just slightly above cost.  The deliveries came in three separate installments.

On Friday, six bikes for 6-8-year-olds were delivered. Next week 10 are scheduled to arrive for children under six.

“It was one of the most exciting moments to be able to give a credit card number to pay for these bikes, knowing that the store was partnering with us and how much this would make the children happy. Especially as summer vacation was beginning, giving the kids new bikes restored a sense of normalcy and enabled them to start their vacations happily,” Feldstein told UWI.

Only when he arrived to distribute the first delivery of more than two dozen bikes did Feldstein realize how much it would mean to the children – and their parents.  Kids lined up with anticipation.

“As soon as the doors were opened, they ran in,” said Feldstein, “almost as if at a store opening its doors on Black Friday in the USA.”

‘A Brilliant Idea’

Raya Kohen, mother of 9 (ages 6 to 22), told UWI that two of her children received bikes and another 3 have yet to get theirs.

“Everyone had a bike on the moshav,” she explained. “This was a brilliant idea. Even when asked what we need, bikes never came to mind. But now I see how it put normality and fun back into our lives. It has been very therapeutic. With kids on bikes, the grounds around our guesthouses now look like the moshav.

“We were just surviving at first, and life is still bumpy and chaotic,” she added. “Having the bikes takes some pressure off us parents. I like to know where my kids are and what they are doing, and now I know – they are riding their bikes. Knowing where they are is comforting.”

Underscoring the sense of normalcy restored, two kids fell as they rode across a wet surface. “They fell, got scraped up and embarrassed a bit, but got back up and rode away.  All normal, all good,” Feldstein said.