We share with you today two personal reflections from Reform leaders in Israel.
Dear friends and Colleagues,
I wanted to share with you my thoughts on these days of turmoil.
I was in fifth grade when the period of being on alert just prior to the Six Day War began. In the mornings we practiced going down to the school basement, which served as a shelter. In the afternoons we served cold drinks to the high school teenagers who dug trenches in the playground behind our house, since there was no public shelter in our area. If they were in the right mood the high school kids would let us hold the sacks while they filled them up with sand. Sandbags were then considered the ultimate protection so piles of them were placed at the entrances to the apartment buildings in our neighborhood. When the war was over, we were overjoyed with the large quantities of sand that spilled back into the sandbox in our near-by playground.
When the Yom Kippur war broke out, I was already in high school. As the terrible news trickled from the fronts, we were busy packing food packages for the soldiers and gathering at the local hospital gates to be taken as volunteers. My father, working as an engineer in the national Phone Company, was recruited for special missions of maintaining phone lines in critical areas of the country.
When the First Lebanon War began, I was a student in the film school in Tel Aviv. I was working on a project with a fellow student, an Israeli-Arab from the city of Akko. We found ourselves re-evaluating the material for the documentary we were filming at the time, and when the tragedy in Sabra and Shatila was exposed, we stood shoulder to shoulder at the large demonstration in the main square in Tel Aviv.
The First Gulf war found me sitting with my children on my bedroom bed, fitting the special anti-radiation masks on their heads. I was joking that Purim is just around the corner, but I don’t think they were really in the mood for joking.
Operation Protective Edge catches me in a totally different position, with my youngest son, Itamar, serving as a fighter in the armored forces. When he completed the tank commander course three weeks ago, we were relieved to learn that he was going to serve as a trainer in the upcoming tank commander’s course. It meant a ten-day crew preparation and then starting the course. The morning of the ceremony the first missiles were shot, and by the end of the ceremony we already sensed the commotion, leading to an abrupt change of plans. Early morning Sunday, instead of preparing for the course at a base near Netanya (not too far from where we live), Itamar travelled south. The young tank commanders and their trainees were all at the Southern border preparing the tanks for a possible ground assault.
What’s now left for me is to wait for news from him and pray.
With deep hope for days of tranquility,
The last couple of weeks have been, once again, a testing period for the people of Israel, its government, the Israel Defense Forces, as well as for you, wherever you may be. Israel has entered this round of hostilities quite reluctantly, despite months and years of weekly, sometimes daily, shooting of rockets and missiles into the country, putting the lives of hundreds of thousands of Israelis in constant jeopardy. This has eventually led to operation Protective Edge that has been an ever escalating response to the constant attacks on Israel. The threat has increased to cover some five million of our citizens and north as Haifa and south all the way to Eilat, with the brunt of the fights being borne by civilians living up to eighty kilometer, or fifty miles, from the border with Gaza. It is a situation no country can tolerate and neither can Israel. The unfortunate result is that civilians on both sides are bearing the costs, scars and deaths. At this time, as the Government of Israel, has been operating cautiously, giving ample opportunity to also seek ways to return on a route to the cease of hostilities, we give it our full support. We also pray for the safe and successful return of the IDF soldiers in the air, sea and on land.The Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism was quick to respond having our own Keren BeKavod on the ground, as a first responder teams. Distributing toys, treats, food, clothes and other items of need from well-stocked emergency storerooms we have prepared as part of the lessons made from previous events. We also continuously study what is needed by the people we try to help and as a result activity kits have been prepared to allow for home day camps for kids who prefer staying at home with their families. And we do not forget to attend those in the area of different faiths that deserve our attention and care too. Together with the Ministry of Health Affairs teams of rabbis and song leaders help those of need for spiritual and emotional uplifting. Our rabbis have and are organizing multi-faith prayers for peace that involve Muslims, Christians and Druze.From a personal perspective I can also tell you a little about my feelings regarding one of my six kids who is an officer, now called for active duty, being in charge of humanitarian aid. He is responsible for the coordination of this effort, making sure that safe corridors are open and that supplies can move as fast as possible to places of need. Here and there he has shared with me the frustration with those who take advantage of such opportunities to launch attacks resulting in an inability to provide much or all of the supplies needed. Nonetheless, he works ruthlessly to try and resolve obstacles to make sure that the utmost is done from his side.These are going to be trying days for all of us. Blame will be put on one side or the other. I think we all understand that this conflict must be eventually peacefully resolved. Unfortunately not all are truly and all heartedly involved in this process. We at the IMPJ are committed, even at tough times, to be attentive to the needs of others, open our hearts and souls to those men and women of peace, wherever they may be. And we will never forget our undivided commitment to a strong, flourishing, and just society in the Land of Israel, that can properly balance it as a democratic and Jewish state.