By Martin Lenkowsky
While most of us spent Thanksgiving with family and friends eating scrumptious turkey dinners, Coral Springs resident Michael Singer was not at the table; he volunteered in Israel, bringing much-needed supplies to the reservists on the front lines.
When Hamas terrorists attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing as many as 1,200 people and taking perhaps as many as 250 hostages, many people were glued to their TV screens watching the horror unfold.
Not Singer, 63, a Coral Springs Charter School social studies teacher. He felt duty calling.
“I just couldn’t stand watching it on TV,” he said. “There had to be something I could do. I’m too old to join the [Israeli] army. I had to be there. I believe in Israel.”
Singer, a New York City native and resident of Coral Springs for 25 years, attributes his robust and heartfelt desire to help Israel in its moment of peril to how he was raised. His family was not religious but observant “and very Zionist,” he said.
He left for the Jewish state on Saturday, November 18, and returned to South Florida on Friday, November 24. While there, he visited troops on the front lines, bringing with him many of the supplies needed primarily by the reservists. He said Active duty troops stationed closer to the Gaza and Lebanese fronts are better supplied.
He explained that with 300,000 reservists called up in such a hurry, there weren’t enough essential everyday comfort items available to them, including warm jackets and blankets for soldiers, especially on the northern front.
“They wanted good coffee and good clothes,” he said. “It was freezing up by Lebanon. We drove from military base to military base. I felt like Santa Claus.”
Singer points out how when Israel goes to war, it is so unlike when the United States goes to war. “When we go to war, we send our kids,” he says, “but we go about our business. Over there, people are sending their kids and husbands. The whole country is at war.”
One thing he says he learned from his journey is how much the entire country was affected by the unexpected Hamas War. While visiting the military bases, he saw male and female soldiers ranging from 19 to 60 years old. He said colleges and universities have shut down because students and their professors have been called to serve.
Singer also visited towns and villages along both borders where schools have been closed, and residents evacuated to safer areas. Many evacuated people have been sent to some of the same hotels where Singer stayed. He got to meet and talk with many of them.
He also visited – with military escort – some of the towns and kibbutzim on the Gaza border that were ravaged during the Hamas attack. He displayed photos he took of blood-stained walls and a floor, clear evidence of the savagery inflicted by the invaders. “I got to talk to the survivors,” he said. “I was on the front line with the victims.”
Traveling to Israel to help and support them made him feel appreciated. “It made them feel good to see Americans really do care. They were shocked I was there. I felt like a part of them,” he said.
He says it is in America’s vital interest to support Israel. “Israel is an island of democracy in a sea of religious monarchies,” Singer said. “An existential threat to Israel is a threat to America. Helping in Israel is not just helping the Jews; it’s helping America.”
Singer was one of the founding faculty at Coral Springs Charter School. Before moving to South Florida, he lived in Manhattan and worked in his family’s heating oil business. He’s gone to visit Israel on many occasions. In 1978, he spent an entire year there. In 1973, his parents took him to Israel for his Bar Mitzvah.
“My family’s been supporting Israel for three generations,” he said. “I met [Israeli founder] David Ben-Gurion at his house. I was enamored with the country.”
- Martin Lenkowsky moved to Coral Springs from NYC in 1982. He has a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College. He has been both writer and editor for a number of South Florida publications since 1983. He considers features writing his specialty.
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