Friday was a special day as we had family come and visit us making the long trek from southern Israel almost to the northern border where the train tracks end and go no further. We had a slow lunch enjoying good company and pleasant conversation enabled by somewhat relaxed service as the place was crowded and the kitchen was probably a place of ordered confusion. But the leisurely service mostly passed notice as we were lost in conversation with my cousin playing the role of translator since she is fluent in a number of languages, or at least in Hebrew and English, which was all that was required. We also took a strolling paced walk to the shuk and they got some fruits and such for their Shabbat and then had to make the trip home so as to arrive before sunset. This visit made me all the more aware of family and the warmth and closeness one can feel when in their company. There is a serenity mixed with enthusiasm and excitement making for a cacophony of emotions which blend making even diametric opposite coexist in a smooth and yielding blend satisfying the soul. This completeness felt from the all too short, as such pleasantries are always too short, time we were enjoying being together also leaves a lingering warmth and joy that makes one aware of other such relations some of which opens one’s eyes to things which otherwise are missed or simply taken for granted.
The next Morning, Shabbat morning, I started my trip, a short walk for most but a strenuous traversal which requires a few rest stops at spots now memorized as suitable, to attend services at the synagogue where my Torah Shiur Rabbi presides and leads the Shabbat service after the initial prayers have been chanted and leading to and performing the reading of the Torah and Haftorah. As my wanderings take me past a few other synagogues and there are other worshippers whose paths cross, we often wish one another a polite, and oft friendly, “Shabbat Shalom” and almost always dotted with a warm smile and a brightened countenance from the exchange. But this was but my initial realization that my view may have changed and become brighter, more optimistic and hopeful. The realization and recognition of this transition came upon my arrival slightly before services were to start as I require that I leave some extra time just in case my strolling pace is less efficient than normal, not to imply my walking speed approaches normal. This cemented the realization that in Israel we really are a family just as Torah teaches.
The Synagogue I attend may be graced with a Rabbi who speaks both Hebrew and English but for the large part the congregation speaks only Hebrew. Still, despite our language differences the other congregants treat me with warmth and friendship which came home more today as I was sensitized to see and realize the acceptance which has greeted me honestly from the first service I did partake of a Shabbat morning services there. This got me to thinking and realizing the many people who have become like friends at the various stores where we shop. In every store there are those who have taken the initiative to befriend us and make our lives so much easier and, better yet, warmer. Without these friends our lives would be more difficult, not impossible, but more difficult and far more cold. The difficulty would be overcome with technology, cellphone translation software and the fact that money honestly makes people desire to understand you and for more so in a town with mostly smaller family run stores. But even technology has its limits and life would be far less enjoyable without these wonderful people. Yes, there have been exceptions but even some, if not most, of these more difficult people have come around with time and their realization that we have made Aliyah and truly are here to stay. These people have become our extended family. These people we meet in our weekly ritual of shopping are but one family but there are others.
There have been developed groups within the Anglo communities which provide social, religious and study groups which add much to enrich the lives of us from the Anglosphere who have made Aliyah to our little corner of Israel. There are Torah study groups, social events around the Jewish holidays, expeditions to the near countless historic and religious sites which exist throughout Israel and other events which are simply for entertainment such as game nights. Much of this is possible as there are a fair number of Anglos who are retired or work via telecommuting thus giving them the time to shift work around events. But the reality is that despite many of us coming from many completely different backgrounds, completely disparate locations both within the separate nations as well as around the globe as the tentacles of the British Empire reaches into the farthest corners of the planet. The camaraderie is unlike anything I have ever experienced even in other Jewish communities. Probably the closest to the trust, cooperation, acceptance and mutual respect I have found in Israel was the camaraderie in my infantry platoon in the military and even there it was not as universal nor was it as close as the feelings and friendships I have found here. The mutual relations amongst our Anglo community are, as one might expect, made all the more obvious by the brightening of each other’s faces when we run into one another in unexpected meetings during our daily travels. The same bright eyed and extra bounce in their step is evident with those who have befriended my wife and I in the locations where we stop and despite the claim that most Israelis do not know how to treat people, customers, the many people we have met have gone to great extents to provide any and all assistance we have ever needed. But it goes further as even when we run into a problem in a store while shopping and there is no one we know to assist, often out of the blue a customer steps up, often a stranger and other times somebody we barely know, such as somebody we have interacted with during other completely unconnected matters, will step forward and take as long as required to make sure that every and anything required has been done to take care of whatever the problem or requirement you needed. Sometimes this even has the effect of the store or wherever you are, going the extra step and finding what it is you requested even after initially believing they had none in stock, a very surprising but not actually all that unusual case, just was not the reputation of the particular instance we recently experienced.
The ultimate test of a society is how they react when a person appears distressed, especially somebody they do not know and likely may not have even ever crossed paths. Suffering, as I do from a disability which often limits my ability to walk distances which are embarrassingly short on my worst days that I often end up sitting on low walls or the benches at bus stops and around town, of which there are numerous as this is a resort location, and I am usually breathing rather hard and sweat rather profusely partially from physical exertion and additionally likely due to the cocktail mix of medications physicians assure us are required for our betterment as they will place our blood tests and other medical tests within their preferred ranges. Needless to say, I make quite a site at times when I am out and around and more often than I may be completely comfortable though I am very appreciative and would probably be more ill at ease if things were the opposite and everybody just passed a person in distress by without any concerns sufficient to stop and offer to help. These good citizens will even seek the assist from another to work as a translator just to make sure you are not in need of medical or other assistance. This would have been a real rarity before I made Aliyah as my limitations are far from something new and I had sufficient opportunities to test the situation before reaching Israel.
Many of you are probably wondering if I have lost my mind or is there something towards which I am working and you would be correct. As many of us have been reading here there has been a steadily increasing levels of violence with stabbings, vehicular assaults, rock attacks, Temple Mount rioting replete with assaults on the police and some shootings as well. Further, there have been calls from Hamas for Arabs to start using poison on their knives as well as to start utilizing homicidal suicide bombings. The idea behind the terror assaults, the rocket attacks and every other form of attacks against Israeli citizens and the IDF are intended to accomplish two things, first to chase the Jews out and destroy Israel or second to murder every Jews thus destroying Israel. There is absolutely no desire to actually form an Arab nation called Palestine unless it replaces Israel after which Fatah and Hamas allied with Islamic Jihad will fight to see who gets to rule on their state founded on the corpses of the six-million plus Jews living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Interestingly enough it often appears that the Europeans and the United States State Department and others from all over the globe, as indicated when the General Assembly voted to accord an Arab state of Palestine non-Member Observer State status in the United Nations with one-hundred-thirty-eight in favor and nine against which were Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Panama, Palau, United States and with forty-one nations abstaining. One-hundred-thirty-eight nations decided to recognize an Arab state which has refused to accept any offer for a state from the initial offer in 1948 to have the lands divided evenly between Israel and an Arab state, and again including a series of times during the last weeks of the Clinton Administration while President Willian Jefferson Clinton worked with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert offering over ninety percent of Judea and Samaria with the remainder covered through land swaps as well as all of Eastern Jerusalem including all of the Old City and the Temple Mount even to include the Western Wall and the plaza before it where Jews currently pray as close as possible to the location of the Holy First and Second Temples on the Temple Mount. Then there was the nineteen years when the lands were occupied by Jordan in Judea and Samaria and Egypt in Gaza when there was no desires, claims, votes at the United Nations or calls about occupation over the presence of Jordan and Egypt in the lands now being recognized by the United Nations as an independent nation with overwhelming accordance.
The reason which will stop the aims of Fatah, PA, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PLO plus additionally Iran and the Islamic State who have also expressed their desire to destroy the Jewish State of Israel, or the Zionist Entity if one listens to their propaganda, is this family feelings between the majority of Israelis and particularly within the religious Zionist community which has been and continues to gain new adherents every day. Even in Israel there are those in the political classes who are attempting to take whatever they can to prevent the eventual surge in the religious Zionist camp from coming to the forefront and take control of the Knesset and the office of Prime Minister. What has been holding these groups back have been efforts to subvert their rising power in the right wing parties, a conflict here in Israel which might come close to the same resurgence in the United States of religious right in the Republican Party. It is just with the political zoo of parties in Israel such subversion is sometimes accomplished by some being driven by the old party power structures while others are lost through the foolish rivalries within this community which in too many cases are due to differences too insignificant for many to even understand. But politics are the same across the world and often make little sense to the average person but apparently are humongous in the political realms. Politics aside, in the real world within Israel, as best as I have been able to discern, there is an attitude which bodes well for the future and the taking on the challenges no matter what the world might try to throw our way. It took close to two-thousand years for the Jewish People to return to our ancient homeland making Israel the first nation to return into existence from exile twice (thrice if the four-hundred years of slavery in Egypt) and one of the few peoples to keep their original language and genetic integrity while in such an extended existence spread over as many differing nations as was the case of the Jewish People. This was extremely well worded in a recent article we read where it was simply stated,
“Israel, rooted in the Jewish people as an Abrahamic people, is a prototypical First Nation or aboriginal people, just as the Jewish religion is a prototypical aboriginal religion, the first of the Abrahamic religions. In a word, the Jewish people is the only people that still inhabits the same land, embraces the same religion, studies the same Torah, hearkens to the same prophets, speaks the same aboriginal language – Hebrew – and bears the same aboriginal name, Israel, as it did 3,500 years ago.”
The central congealing, central, and treasured truth which held these numerous communities was Torah. Torah cemented our history. Torah preserved our language (even if many of us have yet to remaster our ancient language, the language from where the first two letters, Aleph and Bet gave the English language the word ‘alphabet’). Torah retained our laws. Torah safeguarded our covenant with Hashem reminding us of our special responsibility to work the lands of Eretz Yisroel. Torah gave us hope during the darkest hours. Torah also challenged us through the ages to be better people despite the events which were often collapsing around us. Torah taught us the importance of reading and study. And Torah steeled us to remember our roots in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Exodus with Moses and the entirety of our history and some of the wisest and most sagely rules and advice on life, relations and virtually any situation we might encounter in life. It was the Ten Commandments and the rules establishing moral codes establishing the basis for Judeo-Christian society and the teachings of Psalms and Proverbs which filled out the basis for conscience and morality when most of the world still worshipped idols sacrificing children and others before great stone edifices.
Much of the basis for a just society was everything opposed by the Nazis as evidenced in this song sung by the Hitler Youth;
“We are the joyous Hitler youth
We do not need any Christian virtue
Our leader is our savior
The Pope and Rabbi shall be gone
We want to be pagans once again.”
That about says it all and many in the Arab Palestinian leadership and the leaders in Iran and other Arab and Muslim nations, terror groups, Islamic religious organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the anti-Semites, anti-Israel and anti-Zionists such as the leaders and members of the Islamic State all share an admiration for Hitler’s and the Nazis’ stand on exterminating the Jews with a special note for perhaps one of the main influences to inculcate these thoughts and concepts into Islamic and especially Arab Palestinian thought was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Hussein, the man who mentored Yasser Arafat and had a great deal of influence on Mahmoud Abbas who all dream of causing another Shoah, another Holocaust while a number which includes some of the Iranian leaders, other Arab and Muslim leaders both political and religious, as well as some like Mahmoud Abbas whose doctoral thesis revolved around a version of Holocaust denial. A few final thoughts which need telling, the Arab Palestinians are being fed lies about their state being denied them by the Jews in Israel as it is their leadership which will only accept replacing a destroyed Israel and placing their nation on the corpses of six-million plus Jews and the people, especially those being forced to remain in refugee camps are all being denied basic human rights by the Arabs who refuse to assist their brethren as they would hurt and impose hardship on generation after generation in the hope these refugees descendants will be permitted to flood Israel and vote their subjugation of all the Israeli Jews when they elect the leader who will surrender the lands to the Arab Palestinian state ending any two state solution making all the land between the Jordan River and the Sea one Arab nation and the Jews in Israel stand ready to enforce their idea which is summed up in a single concept, “Never Again!” As we actually are a family whose tree dates back to Abraham and Sarah over four thousand years ago, and yes such things matter and they matter to our family greatly.
Beyond the Cusp