Reflections on a Visit to Israel
10-18 August 2006
Written following the Rabbinical conference of European Rabbis and mission tour, organized by the Center for Religious Affairs in the Diaspora, World Zionist Organisation, Israel.
Abridged and reproduced with permission www.myrabbi.co.uk ©
We had several reasons for visiting Israel at this time, and it was not to enjoy a beach-style vacation.
My family live in northern Israel, in Tiberias, Naharia, and the Kraiot near Haifa. They were forced to live in shelters and leave their homes to stay with family near Tel Aviv. We were very worried about their safety and wanted to see how they coped and offer them our love and support.
Yes, my own family became Israeli refugees, they fled away from their homes to avoid rockets and missiles of Hezbollah.
Jeremiah warned us that the evil will emanate from the north and it did happen as he predicted. Perhaps it was a timely reminder for all of us from G-d, who pays us a measure for measure. […]
The tremendous self-sacrifice and acts of loving kindness shown by the people of Israel will stand us in good stead for a long time to come. Before the Israelites came out of Egypt; from the narrow straights called Mitzrayim, or Maytzarim, G-d gave us an opportunity to perform the commandment of the sacrificial Pascal lamb and also do kindness with one another - as a preamble - to accumulate some merit in order to be redeemed.
History has repeated itself but in a slightly different way. Albeit with some irregularities, the distribution of food and drink and medicine was fantastic and generally worked well on the whole. The provision of shelter and places to stay by individual families, hotels and help organisations was incredible.
Isaiah wrote that Zion shall be redeemed with justice and her returnees with righteousness. Well, Isaiah was right, as was Jeremiah - we could witness lovingkindness in Israel in gigantic proportions. After the war, our challenge is not to forget and go back to normal and selfish existence, to quarrels and disunity. Our challenge is to rise to the occasion and understand that redemption is just around the corner and as long as we continue to score merit points, G-d will surely redeem us sooner and not later. The latest war […] is only the first round, and we should remain resolute and steadfast to see this conflict through and win unconditionally.
During my speech on Jerusalem Radio station, Kol Haneshama (Voice of the Soul), I gave tremendous encouragement and words of support to our brothers and sisters in Israel. But I also quoted verses form the Torah (first 5 books in the Hebrew Bible), whereby G-d warns us that if we are not holy and do not keep the Torah commandments, the land would regurgitate us, as it did in the past. I urged the Israeli government to close all establishments that supply non-kosher food and close all public facilities, barring emergencies, during the Sabbath and Festivals.
The Sages taught us that when we face calamity we have to do some soul-searching, spot our wrong-doings and put matters right; this is our situation today. I am not speaking about unprecedented mistakes by the Israeli government and the top military command, which are a subject of very harsh and justified criticisms from the whole country - I am speaking about putting our house in order, in terms of Torah observance and relationships between people, as we approach the 40 days of repentance, from 1st of Ellul through the 10th of Tishrei.
During our visit to the Rambam hospital, where we were very warmly received by Professor Michael Soudri, who explained the types of injuries sustained by our brave soldiers, who due to wearing a special protective shield, suffer mostly from orthopaedic type injuries; we also visited several wounded soldiers, including Roi […]
A poem by Helen Abrahami
Written Monday 14 August 2006, after visiting the injured soldiers in the Rambam hospital in Haifa, northern Israel:
Do we know how you really feel
As we come to visit and watch you heal
How can we know the horror you’ve seen
Into unknown territory you have recently been?
The shrapnel and metal have entered your skin
The enemy has committed the ultimate sin
By adding ball bearings to their weapons of hate
To inflict more misery at a devastating rate
Missing limbs and injuries so severe
This enemy is one to truly fear
A handsome face scarred for life
A growing terrorism in the world is rife
For life is cheap, they have no care
For their own or ours they have no tear
They sacrifice children and babes in the womb
So they have the last word in their immortal tomb
And as we witness your innocent face
It breaks our heart you were in that place
A mother’s child you lay in broken pieces
Both physically, mentally the pain never ceases
You were the force in the front line
To save us all, both ours and thine
And for those we have lost and could not see
We thank you even though you can no longer be
We shall never forget you, each one of the brave
A lasting memorial written on an early grave
To remind us that you fell for freedom and good
And principles - something they have never understood
By Rabbi Dr Abraham (Avi) Abrahami and Helen Avrahami,
Helen and I stayed at the Renaissance Hotel in Jerusalem, where we were received by Gerry Budwig, the general manager of the hotel and an old friend of Helen's family. The hotel was full to the brim, mainly with French tourists and Israelis from the north of the country. It was very noisy and busy, the food was excellent, and atmosphere electrifying. Rabbis mainly from France attended the Rabbinical Conference, together with the Chief Rabbi of Geneva, president of the Jewish community of Panama, and I represented the UK and Ireland.
© www.myrabbi.co.uk Rabbi Dr Abe Avrahami, Helen Avrahami.