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From Israel: “I Celebrate Israel!!”

Today is the 23rd anniversary of my aliyah.  From the day that I arrived in Israel until this day, I have never regretted my transition from the east coast of the US to Jerusalem.  Quite the contrary, I have always felt enormous gratitude and pride.  

Credit: Israeli box

This does not mean there have been no glitches or that I have had no problems to contend with.  Certainly not.  But I have never measured the value of my life here in those terms. There was something else going on – something profound: I was home!

I could feel it in the air, in the energy of the people, the vibrancy – and in the miracle of being in the place where it all began.

Some time ago, many years after my aliyah, I joined my family in a visit to my grandson, who was studying in a hesder yeshiva in Elon Moreh, a small community in the Shomron.  He also volunteered with a sheep farmer in the community – volunteering, being part of the community, was encouraged by the yeshiva. The sheep farmer took us on a ride in his jeep; we were high up.  He stopped his jeep and pointed.  Down there is the Jordan River, he told us, and this is where the people crossed into the Land. Wow! I thought.  Wow.  To be so connected.  

I have never forgotten this incident because it brought forth in me powerfully a feeling that I carried almost subliminally: I am part of the stream of history that began with Moses and continues to this very day.  This land, a sacred gift, is where we are meant to be.   

I am part of something far greater than myself.  

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Every now and then we read reports about the fact that the people of Israel are among the happiest in the world.  Many wonder how this could be when the country is beset with so many problems.  

The answer is that the Israeli people have a sense of purpose and belonging.   

It is a given for me, and for many of us, that we are here only by the grace of God.  That we rose from the ashes of the Shoah, and the loss of one-third of our people, to establish a state is astounding. And that was only the beginning.  We have flourished, becoming a world leader in many spheres – technological, medical and more – in very short order.

What is more, we have won wars in the face of overwhelming odds – odds so great that military analysts cannot figure out how we did it.  

We did it with help from Above.  The Almighty does not promise that each of us will be safe, but He has promised to keep the people.  It is this promise that sustains me now and helps me to know that at the end of this horrendous war, we will have prevailed.  We will be stronger than ever.

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This war, this war is an obscenity, a horror beyond anything that we could have imagined. It has unleashed hatred around the world that takes the breath away.  People defy all logic in order to stand against us.  Gays for Palestine?  What?  This has been likened to “Turkeys for Thanksgiving.”

All of this we must watch, and contend with, as we carry on.

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What I have seen during the course of the war is a spirit within the people of Israel that is stunning.  It makes my heart overflow with pride to be Israeli.

Everywhere, people have been volunteering.  Helping out as help is needed.

As for our soldiers, they are nothing short of magnificent.  They go into battle willingly, knowing they may die.  They go because of their devotion to Israel and the personal sense of purpose they feel. And some do die.

There are stories, and I have shared a few, of former soldiers who did not have to report for miluim (reserve duty) but came anyway.  And soldiers who were wounded and entitled to additional recuperation time, who insisted they had to return to their unit and continue to fight.

Credit: Reddit

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We – regardless of what the world chooses to say – are fighting with extraordinary care for the enemy civilians we encounter.  Never in the annals of history has there been an army that fought this way.

My friends and I – who all have grandchildren in the IDF – sometimes speak about our young people and what they are like: serious and mature and ready to do their part. They have grown up quickly and tend not to be self-centered or frivolous.  They carry great weight upon their shoulders. Blessings upon all of them.

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Also to be celebrated are the families of our soldiers – parents, grandparents, sometimes young wives, children.  They wait with trepidation for their soldiers to return from battle but lend their support and express their pride.  If the worst comes, they bow their heads in almost unbearable pain, and then carry on – declaring themselves proud of their lost sons and grandsons, and husbands.  Typically, they say, “He died with a sense of purpose, doing what he believed he should be doing.”  

I am in awe of each of them.

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And so, I want to share words from one of those fathers, Hillel Scheinfeld.  He models exquisitely what I am talking about.

Nine months ago, on October 7, he sent five sons to war.

“…My family and friends have been to many funerals. My kids have all lost friends. They have friends who have suffered injuries and they have witnessed the dark side of war and the psychological challenges that come with it…

“I get asked all the time, ‘How are you and your wife doing? How do you guys sleep at night?’ I always answer that we are doing well. My kids and their friends are fighting with conviction. They are taking responsibility for the Jewish people and are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. I am optimistic and we derive our strength from our kids and in having faith that we are doing what is needed and that this is all part of God’s plan.

“I’ve been asked, ‘Hillel, when is this nightmare going to end?’ and reply that I would not categorize Israel today as a nightmare. My optimism is not rooted in denial; it is grounded in the perspective that I believe we, as the Jewish people, need to keep in mind and remind ourselves daily.

“Yes, we are currently experiencing a very dark period, surrounded by many personal and national tragedies that are painful beyond description. But at the same time, we need to take a step back and appreciate where we are standing.”

https://aish.com/nine-months-ago-i-sent-my-5-children-to-war/

Credit: Aish

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Are there stories that are not so inspiring?  Oh, indeed there are, my friends.  Troublesome stories, which I intend to look at in my next posting. I suspect that I would be remiss if I did not.

But these stories represent a minority of the people of Israel.  And while I think it’s important to consider what’s going on with them, I did not want to do it here.  For this is a celebration of Israel.  Israel, which is fighting on the side of good in a world gone mad, merits great celebration.

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Keep praying to Heaven for Israel. Pray that the tears might be lifted from our hearts.

Pray for the strength and wisdom of our leaders, for the safety of our soldiers, and for the rescue of our hostages.

Pray in a spirit of hope.

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©Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

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