Gadi Beer, 52, is an Israeli who lives in Abington with his wife, Beth Beer, and their two kids. He came to the United States as a 25-year-old to work for the Israeli Consulate in New York. Six years later, he met his wife, decided to stay and became an American citizen.
After working at Chartwell Law in Montgomery County for 21 years, Beer left to start a consulting firm, COO Legal. It advises law firms “on the accounting side,” Beer said.
But on Oct. 7, Beer awoke to the news that Israel had been attacked by Hamas. He said he felt like he “couldn’t sit in front of my computer.”
“It wasn’t fair to my firm,” Beer continued. “I told them I needed to go do something. They said, ‘Go do what you need to do.’”
Beer called his friend, David Goldstein, a native of Jewish Philadelphia who now lives in Atlanta. The two knew each other from Goldstein’s time in the Philadelphia area.
“I said, ‘I’m going over there. Do you want to do it?’” Beer recalled. “He said, ‘Of course. Let’s go.’”
Beer did some research and connected with an organization called Brothers in Arms. In Israel, it’s been protesting the government’s judicial overhaul proposals over the last 10 months. But since the attack, it’s pivoted to helping civilians survive day-to-day during a war situation.
The Israeli American and the Jewish Philadelphian are staying with the Israeli’s brother in Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut, a city 22 miles southeast of Tel Aviv. Each morning, they drive 30 minutes to the Tel Aviv Expo Center and offer themselves as Brothers in Arms. They distribute goods and supplies to kibbutz residents, displaced families and soldiers rushed into duty, according to Goldstein. The day begins between 8 and 9 a.m. and does not end until between 5 and 6 p.m.
Some days, Brothers in Arms has a different task for the men to carry out. On Oct. 20, they stayed in Modi’in-Maccabim-Reut and made sandwiches for soldiers. On other occasions, they were given boxes, an address and an order to deliver them. “Equipment up north.” “Toys for kids.”
No one from Brothers in Arms provides them with a car or gas money. Luckily, Beer’s mother, who still lives in Israel, has a car they can use.
“Everyone comes with their resources, and they try to give you as much as possible,” Beer said.
The Abington resident feels like he’s helping.
“I don’t think I could live with myself just staying back in the States,” he said. “I was just so distracted by everything that’s going on.”
But his family remains back in the States. Beth Beer is an American, but she also has family in Israel. So, Beth Beer supports her husband “100%,” she said. But she also can’t join him over there. She has a household to run. Her teenage children, ages 18 and 14, are still in school.
It’s been difficult without her husband, she said.
“Everybody’s been a little more on edge. A little more fighting than usual,” she added.
The couple’s 18-year-old daughter will text her father asking if he’s alive. Beer will answer in the affirmative and send a silly picture.
Beer himself acknowledges that he has gone into areas closed off by the army and rushed into bomb shelters. He has gone to the supermarket and dashed into a supply room.
The family members track each other on the Life 360 iPhone app. The other day, Gadi Beer went a little farther than Beth Beer would have liked. She called him to yell at him.
“It’s not easy being here and worrying from afar,” she said.
Beth Beer said she has been “overwhelmed” by the support the family has received without her husband around. Family members and friends have sent food. The wife has never been taken out to lunch so often in her life.
Yet she was still concerned that her husband would extend his stay. She would also have understood if he did.
“It would be nice to have him at home, but I also understand that it may be difficult to come back and try to normalize the day-to-day routine,” she said.
Gadi Beer had a ticket to return to the United States on Oct. 30. The couple’s 19th anniversary is on Oct. 31. He used the ticket and got on the plane.
“You go down in the morning, and there’s a two-hour line of people waiting to volunteer,” he said. “I think these guys are in good hands.”