Dizengoff Center, a renowned symbol of Tel Aviv, opened its doors over 40 years ago when Israel relied on local grocery stores for its shopping needs. Throughout the years, it has witnessed both celebrations and tragedies, including a devastating attack.
Today, amidst tense times, only a third of the center’s stores remain open. Instead of shoppers, volunteers now fill its halls, offering assistance by packing packages for soldiers, organizing activities for children, and soon providing mental health support for those in need.
People are hesitant to venture out
On a typical day, only a few stores are open, as people are hesitant to venture out in the current climate of uncertainty. Many business owners are preoccupied with their families and loved ones, putting their businesses on hold. The emotional toll of the ongoing conflict has shifted priorities for many, who are now focused on supporting their communities and loved ones.
Recognizing the need for a space to unite and support the community, Dizengoff Center has opened its doors to various initiatives. Thousands of people have visited the center to donate blood to the Magen David Adom (MDA) blood donation operation. Additionally, a system for collecting and sending packages to the fighting units has been implemented. Children can enjoy activities such as watching Disney Plus content and engaging in creative projects like painting and origami.
Furthermore, the center has established a shuttle service for volunteers who offer their assistance. Plans are underway to create a dedicated space for spiritual conversations, providing individuals with a safe environment to discuss their emotions and seek support. The center has already received furniture donations and is gathering volunteer therapists to facilitate these conversations.
Dizengoff runs drive for soldiers
The center is also actively collecting essential items for soldiers, including toiletries, underwear, socks, batteries, and portable chargers. Dry food donations are also being accepted. In addition, arrangements are being made to collect toys, games, and other activities for the benefit of families and children who have been evacuated from their homes in the Gaza Strip.
The efforts at Dizengoff Center serve a dual purpose: Providing much-needed assistance to soldiers and offering an outlet for individuals to come together, take action, and support one another. By engaging in meaningful activities, children and teenagers are encouraged to shift their focus away from screens and instead actively contribute to their communities. This emphasis on communal support and involvement reflects the current needs of the hour.
The manager of Dizengoff Center, felt compelled to take action when the conflict intensified. Recognizing the lack of government coordination, he and many others have stepped in to fill the gaps. Countless companies and organizations are generously donating resources and manpower to support the soldiers and evacuees. The outpouring of support from the Tel Aviv community is a testament to their compassion, empathy, and sense of responsibility towards their fellow citizens.
The center’s commitment to community engagement extends beyond times of war. It regularly collaborates with various associations and conducts activities for the elderly, the LGBT community, individuals with special needs, ecological conservation, and animal adoption. Moreover, blood donations are organized on a regular basis. In times of crisis or tension, the center has consistently provided support and activities for affected individuals and families.
Dizengoff Center aims to be a central hub for community welfare, not just during war but throughout the year. Its ability to serve as a gathering place for unity and support is a testament to the resilience and strength of the Tel Aviv community.