As I write this, I
am in Israel, as I was privileged to lead a group from our B'nai Tikvah family, following in the footsteps of our patriarchs
and matriarchs, revitalizing our own Jewish souls and joining, even if temporarily,
with the lives of brothers and sisters that on a daily basis experience the Zionist ideal.
We had an amazing
experience, learning, touring, celebrating life cycle events and spending time
One of the most
moving moments to many of us, was spending time with IDF soldiers at the
Lebanese border, impressed and touched by their service and how day in and day
out, they put themselves on the line to make sure that all Israelis can live in
peace and security.
I know that our
Israeli experience was one that left an unforgettable impression in the hearts
and souls of the participants of our synagogue mission.
After the B’nai Tikvah
group returned to Deerfield, I joined with rabbis from all over the U.S.
and other parts of the world to study at the Shalom Hartman Institute in
Jerusalem, where we have been learning about Jewish perspectives
on war and peace. There was a thought, when the summer session was being
planned , that this would be a most relevant topic for rabbis to discuss.
And then, within just a few days, lo and behold,
war broke out. Already the mood in Israel was somber following the kidnapping
and murder of Naftali Fraenkel (16, from Nof Ayalon), Gilad
Shaer (16, from Talmon), and Eyal Yifrah (19, from Elad), three Israeli boys going home from their yeshiva
studies. This was followed by the murder of a young Palestinian boy, Muhammed
abu Khdeir. Nothing can ever justify
Still, Hamas attacks Israel, indiscriminately firing rockets on
Israel's population.There are no military targets. Their attempt is to hurt and
terrorize. The southern front , as usual, is the first target. But then, all of
Israel becomes a prospective victim. No area is off limits as innocent civilians, Israelis
of all ages are under attack.
On July 8, as I
had just arrived at the apartment where I am staying in Jerusalem, all of a
sudden I heard the sirens alerting us all that rockets were being shot against
the eternal capital of the Jewish people.
Scenes that I
would only watch at home in Deerfield, on CNN, all of a sudden became a reality
for me. I felt goose bumps and realized that that is the feeling that Israelis
feel anytime Israel is under attack, regardless of where they live in the
I rushed toward a
safe room, far from windows and outside walls since I had no idea of where to
find the shelter near my building. Then, I went to the stairs.
After a few
minutes the sirens stopped, and an eerie silence fell over the city. It was relief
as well as worry over what is taking place in other parts of the country.
Somebody asked how
I feel being here at this time. Why don’t I go back to the safety of the U.S.?
My answer was, "K'sheani baaretz,
ani margish sheani babayit," – “When I am in Israel, I feel at home."
In my prayers, I
thank God that I am here with my extended Jewish family, and that I am ok. I
pray harder than ever before, together with all Israelis and Jews throughout
the world. I hope for the end of the rockets and for the success of the Israel
Defense Forces as they continue to do whatever is necessary to silence the
terrorists who aim at innocent civilians.
During this time,
Israelis were all still eager to watch World Cup matches. Soccer is a passion
in this country, and no rocket attacks will take away their desire to follow
the game. Only in Israel! Israelis are used to live life to the fullest and
even a tense and dangerous situation does not deter them from doing what brings
to them a measure of joy.
We can learn a lot
from Israel and her people. Something that I have always admired is the sense
of gratitude that they enjoy on a daily basis. There are always crises,
attacks, war, but still they go on with their lives, living life to the fullest,
making the best of it. In fact, that is how this 66-year-old country was built.
With inner strength, with hope, with the conviction that this little piece of
land is a dream come true, that no rocket can destroy.
Israelis are an ongoing inspiration. They have achieved so much even under
constant fire! Still, they haven't been blessed with peace.
Let us all join in
prayer, as we hope for Shalom, in the words of Psalm 29:
Adonai oz l'amo yiten, Adonai yevarech et amo b'shalom
give strength to his people;May God blesses his people Israel with peace."