October 7th and the Origin Story of Operation Israel - Sheba Consulting | Fractional Leadership Services | Fractional COO | Fractional CTO | Fractional CPO | Operations and Back-Office Services

October 7th and the Origin Story of Operation Israel

 Jennifer Conter LaLama
June 18, 2024 11:30am ET

October 7th. A day that shocked Jewish people and the world. As news of the attack on Israel spread, a new reality set in for Adi Vaxman. Born and raised in Israel, this was her homeland. The streets she was seeing on the news were streets she grew up on. But more than that, she had immediate family and close friends in the area who were in mortal danger. 

The weight of the attack became all too real when Vaxman began texting with the graphic designer for Sheba Consulting. Not quite understanding the severity of the situation since news was so sparse, Vaxman began getting a play by play of the atrocities that were unfolding in real time. Although safe today, the 26 hours that our designer and her children spent hiding from terrorists will haunt them in the decades to come. 

Briefly paralyzed with anguish, she describes those first few hours after the attack saying, “I was dying inside.” Dealing with a trauma she hadn’t felt in years, Vaxman instantly went into problem solver mode. Reflecting today, she can see that it was just a coping mechanism because her mind couldn’t accept the reality of what was occurring. But, from that excruciating pain came a mission. 

Years of building her skills as a leader and the fact that she is known as the bulldozer who can get things done, Vaxman was flooded with messages on various platforms asking for help. It became immediately clear that supplies were desperately needed, so Vaxman created a Google Form that she asked friends and family members to pass around. She started to see that ceramic vests were the biggest necessity the soldiers who were called up were going to need. 

Vaxman began reaching out to find out what quality and grade of vest would be needed. With an understanding of how supplies are sourced, Vaxman reached out to people in the Israeli Defense Ministry and from there to the United States purchasing delegation. With some brand names, specs and contacts, she began building the list of inventory needed. 

Next up was the fundraising. Vaxman simply started asking or as some might call it begging people for money. She posted on Facebook groups and WhatsApp pleading for donations. Without a nonprofit (501c3) up and running though, the first donors couldn’t just send money. 

So Vaxman created a system where she would scrutinize every quote and when approved, the donors would pay the supplier directly. Within one week the legal entity, Operation Israel, was formed and days after that, the official application was put in to be recognized as a charitable nonprofit organization. They also began applying for the tax exemptions so they could save money when purchasing supplies. 

Things began moving very quickly at this point. Operation Israel was gaining dozens of volunteers each day who were helping in all aspects of the mission—keeping soldiers safe and getting them the equipment needed to survive. Each volunteer was interviewed and assigned a position suited to their skillset whether it was in social media, managing the website, vetting the gear or purchasing equipment. At one point, they had over 100 volunteers.

Tracking everything and everyone involved required numerous information systems. Once those were put in place, they assisted in reducing administrative burden. Implementing Slack, Monday and Google Drive were lifesavers. With a website, social media, payment integrations, and good fundraising tools in place, Vaxman has finally been able to get more than just 1-2 hours of sleep at night.

Vaxman admits that October 7th changed who she is, for better or for worse. She’s still processing what happened to her homeland and her people. But it was through that agony, that she channeled her pain into Operation Israel. Emphatically, Vaxman states, “It’s not something I did on my own.” She still marvels today at how many people stopped what they were doing to help. 

Never imagining that Operation Israel would be needed for more than a few weeks, a transition point was always in the game plan. It’s taken much longer to reach that point, but Vaxman is still hopeful the war will end soon. When that day comes, Operation Israel is ready to shift gears and assist with rehabilitation costs in both physical and mental trauma, as well as provide assistance for the families who are still living in hotels.

Whether she wants the accolades or not, they are well deserved. What Vaxman and her team of volunteers accomplished in such a short time by getting Operation Israel up and running in just 3 days saved countless lives and maybe even her own along the way.