We heard directly from the great Natan Sharansky about his frustration with the compromise between the Israeli government and the Women of the Wall falling through. A man who survived many years in Soviet prison will not give up so easily, though, and neither should we.
|The incomparable Natan Sharanksy|
|Colonel Haim Moriah|
|Colonel Miri Eisin|
|Colonel Sarit Zehavi|
Three possibilities for war, but balanced out by three moments of incredible inspiration.
We had the sacred opportunity to meet three wounded Syrian men who were being treated by an Israeli hospital in the Galilee for their wounds. One was a fighter, the other two happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, one in his home and one having a bomb explode right outside his car. Israel has treated over 1500 Syrian victims of the conflict, as word has gotten out that that is where they will get the best treatment. It costs Israel approximately 10 times as much, on average, to treat these men, as it does their average patient, and yet, unappreciated by the world, Israel presses on helping people. The motto of the hospital is human to human, and that is exactly what they do.
|Human to Human: Motto of the Galilee Medical Center, Where Syrian War Victims Are Treated|
We went to the village of Yemin Orde, which is a boarding school/village for troubled teens, many of them Ethiopian, and they work very hard to show them that they have value so they can contribute to society. We were shown around by a woman named Batya, who herself came over as part of Israel's Operation Solomon, an airlift of 10,000 Ethiopian Jews in just a few days that was happening while I was in my first year of rabbinical school. The reality of Israel for them has not been able to match the dreams of this Zionistic community, but they continue to work at it.
|Batya in the Synagogue At Yemin Orde Village for At-Risk Youth|
|Shiva Tent for Salomon Famly|
|The Salomon Family, Victims of Terrorism While Celebrating Shabbat|
In this week's Torah portion, the first word Devarim, which means words, is read by our rabbinic sages, as Devorim, which means bees. Why so? Because the words of Torah can feel like the sting of the bee but can also be as sweet as the bee's honey. So, too, with the land of milk and honey. That is what we saw once again on this trip, hearing it from the mouths of some of the most knowledgeable people in the land.
A very special trip with some very special rabbis.
But it's even more special to share Israel with the people I love the most. Pictured below are Karen and me with a former Beth Abraham Bat Mitzvah, Sheli Schacker, our dear friends from Australia the Guths, and some random kid we met in Israel.