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...

  • Blogs Music Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    As Hamas loses its grip on power in the Gaza Strip as a result of war, poverty and disillusionment, the Islamist terrorist group has developed an ingenious way to raise the moral of the 1.7 million Palestinian Arabs it was elected to serve. While currently focused on delivering a rocket into every Israeli home, Hamas has not left its own people behind. To gently wipe away the tears of children strategically placed inside kindergartens as human shields, the Hamas Interior Ministry has [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    In a strong statement that challenges the historic divide between Christianity and Judaism, Pope Francis recently proclaimed, “Inside every Christian is a Jew.” But if you look at Renaissance artworks that depict Jesus, you will not find any evidence of a Jew inside the Christianized Jesus — even though the Gospels in the New Testament tell us that Jesus was Jewish to the core. Getting that point across to the public is a daunting task, as I learned in interviews I [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Recycling His Roots

    Recycling His Roots

    JNS.org – Having started his career playing on his family’s pots and pans, Jewish musician Billy Jonas has maintained this homemade performance ethic while spreading his messages of simple living and environmentalism to a shared home throughout the world. After beginning in the kitchen, Jonas soon moved to the music room, where he picked up the piano, guitar, and trombone. These days, the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist plays on with pretty much anything he can find, including cans, bottles buckets, and other recycled-object [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    JNS.org – Sara Davidson’s The December Project is a new book that should be read by all senior citizens, and by those who hope to live a long life, for it raises a question that most of us have not been taught how to answer: What should we do in that final stage of our lives? Many of us continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, not because we need the money and not because we find the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish History Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    It’s hard to make a new contribution to the field of Holocaust studies,  but German historian Götz Aly accomplishes just that in Why the Germans, Why the Jews? His premise is that the origins of the Holocaust were rooted in the specific anti-Semitism found in Germany in the decades and centuries before World War II. Aly (who is not Jewish) seeks to prove his theory by studying only pre-Holocaust history, and tracing how the German people’s envy and hatred of [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    JNS.org – During the current conflict in Gaza a number of celebrities have voiced their opinions in support of either the Israeli or Palestinian positions. But others—be it during Operation Protective Edge or at other times—have gone further than simply supporting the Palestinians by actively supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, making false accusations about the Jewish state, ignoring Israel’s position on the conflict, or justifying the actions of the terrorist group Hamas. Many of these [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    JNS.org – Days after winning his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight bout against Steven Siler on July 26, Israeli-born mixed martial arts competitor Noad Lahat boarded a plane for his native country, choosing to temporarily exit UFC’s octagonal cage to rejoin the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a paratrooper for its operation against Hamas in Gaza. Except he didn’t actually consider it a choice. “When [our] home is in danger, there is no other way for us [but to serve [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    JNS.org – My wife Suzy and I will never forget our wedding day. It was not just the uplifting ceremony and beautiful party that left an indelible mark. Some life-altering advice that we received from one of our guests informed and shaped our lives from that day forward. My high school teacher, Rabbi Moshe Yagid, pulled us aside just before the chuppah and challenged us to choose one mitzvah that would be the foundation of our marriage and our lives. He explained [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.