DIn November 2016, over 1,000 wildfires raged across Israel destroying 600 homes and over 35,000 acres of land.

80,000 residents were forced to flee their homes, especially in the northern city of Haifa and areas around Jerusalem. Although many of the fires were caused by natural means, police estimate that half the fires were caused by arsonists and experts project that it could take up to 35 years for the forestation and affected areas to recover.

While the fires spread, a Facebook friend, who lives in an area affected by the fires, posted the following account on her Facebook wall: “In our area, the fires were just over the hill. They were so close that we could feel the heat, cough from the soot and ash, and hear the sirens… a lot. It was all anyone talked about. Some were packing and all that. Many parents didn’t let the kids out to avoid inhaling whatever chemicals may be in the air….During the height of the action, I went to the local makolet (convenience store) and stood in with my items.

The line, as you can imagine, is long. People are buying cleaners of all sorts because everything is covered in soot. “Slicha! Excuse me!” a guy shouts, “But I must go to the front of the line!” He is holding a box of toothbrushes and a lot of toothpaste. He said that he only had a half hour off work, and since there was a lot of traffic, we had to let him through quickly. Geez! A man wants a bunch of tooth brushes to stock up for the next ten years! Urgent, you know? Well, one lady told him off, “Look! We are all on edge! Did you inhale Carbon Monoxide or whatever? No? Then stand in line! Here, we have no idea whether we will have a home tonight. Even if we have a house, between the planes and helicopters, and the sirens, and the smoke, who can sleep? And you need toothbrushes?” Turning from him, she said to no one in particular, “I guess everyone goes crazy in different ways!”

I must say that the man was big, very big. If he had wanted to, he could have pushed her (and everyone else) out of line. Instead, he blushed and somehow drooped his shoulders. He softly replied, “I am taking these to the shelter. There are people who only have their purses and a few diapers. Who remembers a toothbrush when you only have five minutes to evacuate? Food, drink, and clothes, they are getting. But no one thinks about toothbrushes, so I thought I’d take a half hour and get some… to make lives more bearable. You know?” The line got very quiet and cleared a path for him. As he approached the cashier, the woman who yelled at him came running with all the pacifiers that were on the shelf. “Take!” she commanded. “There are babies, maybe not everyone has pacifiers! I’ll pay for them!”

Immediately, all the customers abandoned the line and began sweeping items off the shelves – Toothpicks! Lighters! Even cloths to clean glasses! They dropped everything in the man’s basket! “Do you have room for more in your car?” One person asked, as people continued bringing miscellaneous things.