Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Always an Interesting Time to Be in Israel

Dear Friends,

It is always an interesting time to be in Israel. You never know what crisis of the moment will be happening when you book your trip months in advance. Right now, as I'm sure most of you have read about already, the crisis is responding to the tragic murder of the three Israeli teens, Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrah.

First of all, my family and the other TBA families with us are all very safe. For the most part, we are touring the sights of Jerusalem--the Old City, Western Wall, Bible Lands Museum, the Jerusalem Time Elevator, Yehuda Street, Emek Refaim are the ones we have hit in our first two days here. Generally speaking, people are going about their every day lives, and it doesn't feel any different than it ever has when I have visited in the past.

Bloom, Zangwill, and Morris Clans in the Jewish Quarter of Old City
So most of the tension that is in the air is felt by reading or listening to the news here, and there is, of course, much more attention devoted to it here. During our stopover in Toronto, for instance, there were only 10 seconds devoted to the story. Here in Israel, it seems as if it is the only subject discussed.

However, we did run into a counter protest today.

The sign in the background reads: "an eye for an eye makes everyone blind. Revenge will not bring back our boys." While the situation obviously calls for response--more security, efforts aimed at finding the killers, a continuing discussion about whether nations should be dealing with a unity government which includes Hamas, there are also calls for vengeance from extremists on the Israeli side. Tragically, a Palestinian teenager was found dead in a forest today, and it is quite possible that this was an act of vengeance. It doesn't take much fuel to light a tinderbox, and the next few weeks will be critical. So the Israeli police and military are left working overtime trying to control violence on all sides.

My guess is that you will read about the calls for vengeance. I am guessing that you will not get to read about the peaceful protests led by young Israelis like the one we saw today. But that's part of Israel's democratic process at work. It's a fascinating and moving thing to watch.

In the meantime, please don't worry about our personal safety. We are safe.

Please do pray for the peace of Jerusalem and Israel. All our prayers are needed.

And let us say mazel tov to David Morris, who will be celebrating his Bar Mitzvah tomorrow overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem. 


Rabbi Mark Bloom

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