Israel’s Unwritten Message

February 22, 2013 1:33 am 1 comment

New Ethiopian immigrants reach Israel during Operation Solomon in 1991

It was great to speek at the Women’s International Zionist Organisation last night. Thank you to the Sassoon family for the experience, which included a pre-speech shawarma at the new Sami’s branch in Golders. (The Iraqi pitta there is heavenly!)

I thought I’d share a portion of my speech here. So here is its conclusion, in which I spoke about some of ways that both Israel and the Hasidim have inspired me…

I’m inspired by historical giants such as the Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Nachman and the Chabad Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson. I’m fascinated and haunted by Elie Wiesel’s stories of the Hasidim in Block 57 at Auschwitz who continued to sing, dance and pray to G-d, even in that darkest of times.

I’m inspired by the very 21st century Hasidim of the NaNach Breslovers, who dance to techno music on the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. When I stopped blogging for a while in 2011, it was the Nanachs who were the first to email and ask if I was okay. They never directly told me whether or not I should continue blogging. They just told me that I should be happy and then I would make the right decision.

And of course I’m inspired by the modern state of Israel and how it took the Jewish story from the camps of the Shoah to the rescue of Entebbe in a single generation. There are so many figures in Israel’s history that particularly inspire me. The one I keep coming back to is Menachem Begin, the warrior turned peacemaker who devoted his every waking hour to the love of his people.

Then there are the names we are less familiar with and the stories that receive less attention. For instance in May 1991, when Israel airlifted Ethiopian Jews away from impending death. Many of these Ethiopians had never even seen an aeroplane before that day. Over 1,000 people queued to enter the plane which had only a 500-person capacity. The pilot simply removed seats and other items to make more room.

“It’s okay,” he said. “I don’t want to leave any of my people behind.”

Over the next 36 hours Israel saved 14,324 Jews and flew them home, symbolically arriving over the Red Sea. Seven babies were delivered on-board. As the Ethiopian Jews arrived in Israel many kissed the ground. At the absorption centre they were served food, one of the servers was an elderly woman with a tattooed number still visible on her arm.

Jews were also emergency airlifted to Israel from the Yemen. Again, many of them had never seen a plane before. That very week the Jews in Yemen had read the portion of the Bible about G-d carrying the Jews on eagles wings. Imagine how they felt as a huge metal ‘eagle’ appeared and flew them to the Promised Land.

There are more recent stories, such as in 2009 when a Hamas rocket aimed at Israel misfired and severely injured a Palestinian. Israel took the injured Palestinian into one of its own hospitals for treatment. These are beautiful stories that we all need to share with the world more.

And what about the story of a 15-year old Palestinian boy who was bitten by a deadly viper snake as he worked in his family’s fields in Jenin in the West Bank. He was soon in enormous pain and in imminent danger of death.

His father rushed him to Jenin Hospital but they lacked the correct anti-serum. So he was taken to an Israeli hospital – the HaEmek Medical Center. There Muhammed and his father were greeted in Arabic and rushed to the emergency room where the boy’s life was saved by a team of doctors including both Jews and Arabs. He was kept in intensive care for two days and then moved to continue his recuperation in another ward.

Established in 1924, HaEmek Medical Center is a community hospital serving a population of Jews and Arabs. With a mixed medical staff of Jews and Arabs, its guiding philosophy is ‘Coexistence Through Medicine’.

This is Israel and those are the people and stories that so inspire me.

I also love the sense of hope that is inherent in the state of Israel, including in the title of its moving national anthem. Israel is a vibrant, brilliant country, remarkably so given both its youth and the circumstances it was created and built under. To me, etched into every part of Israel is an unwritten message: just look what is possible in life.

This is the ultimate example of how one can start afresh, even after the cruellest of blows. And that truth is there to inspire anyone who cares to connect with it.

And that is what I am admiring and supporting.

In my efforts for Israel I don’t generally aim for loud, controversy-seeking pyrotechnics. Although fireworks can be fun, the Jewish people have shown me candles last a lot longer.

Visit Chas’s blog here.

1 Comment

  • Amen, Chas. And then there is the music as well. A nation born out of the ashes. And unemployment at 7%. But Israel was re-born according to prophecy,see Isa 11 in total, & verse 11: “The Lord shall again set His hand, as second time, to recover the remnant of His people that remains….” Some things are more precious than one’s own life. Israel, defendable, and centred around Jerusalem, is surely prime amongst the things one holds most precious.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Theater US & Canada New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views. At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    A Jewish comedy troupe released a parody video on Wednesday of Taylor Swift’s hit song Shake It Off in which they joke about taking extensive time off from work for Jewish holidays. “And the goyim gonna stay, stay, stay, stay, stay. And the Jews are gonna pray, pray pray, pray, pray. I’m just gonna take, take, take, take, take. I’m taking off,” goes the chorus for I’m Taking Off. Menachem Weinstein, the video’s lead singer, is the creative director at [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    JNS.org – The 75th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on Dec. 15 presents an opportunity to examine the Jewish influence on one of the most popular films of all time. That influence starts with the American Civil War epic’s famed producer, David O. Selznick. Adjusted for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” remains the highest-grossing movie ever made. It earned the 1939 Academy Award for Best Picture, the same honor another Selznick film, “Rebecca,” garnered in 1940. Selznick [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Music US & Canada EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    Matisyahu got candid in an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Monday about his religious and musical journey – after shedding his Chassidic skin, yarmulke, long beard and all – from the start of his career in 2005 when he became a reggae superstar with hits King Without a Crown and Jerusalem. The singer-songwriter embarks on his Festival of Light tour this month, an annual Hanukkah event that stops in Montreal, New York, and other cities before ending in San Juan, [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Personalities ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    JNS.org – It was an era of steel strings, guitar heroes, and storytellers—high on heroin, rebellious. Outlaw country music, the hallmark of Nashville’s powerful and angry music scene of the 1970s, was the brew of greats such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Townes Van Zandt. But there is another, little-known music hero of that era: Daniel Antopolsky. A Jewish lad from Augusta, Ga.—the son of immigrants who settled in the south and ran a hardware store on Main Street—the [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi replaced Israeli star Gal Gadot as the female lead in the new Ben-Hur remake, Hollywood.com reported on Tuesday. The Homeland actress will play Esther, a slave that Ben-Hur sets free and falls in love with. Gadot quit the movie when it became clear that filming conflicted with her schedule for the Man of Steel sequel. The Israeli actress plays Wonder Woman in the superhero film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Actor Jack Huston takes on the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.