On Thursday night, our yishuv hosted two events. The first event was an outdoor party welcoming our soldiers home from Operation Protective Edge. The local basketball court was full of rides, games, blow-up’s, food, beverages, and items for sale. The event was well attended by families, young and old, and it was a terrific summer evening activity.
The second event was a hosting of four buses of families from the southern town of Netivot(plus and additional 25 people who drove separately to our yishuv). The families first came to the outdoor activities, and then walked over to our local synagogue for a catered dinner, accompanied by entertainment for the kids, as well as live music.
I attended both events with my kids. Both were entirely intertwined. For, we were celebrating the army soldiers return, while simultaneously hosting families from Netivot while their homes were being barraged by rocket fire.
The families from both events were entirely grateful for the hospitality and warmth of our community. I spoke to many Netivot families that night who were so gracious for us opening our yishuv to them. ” How could we not do so?” I thought. It is our duty to help all fellow men and women in trouble. As it says in Pirkei Avoth (Ethics of Our Fathers)”If not now, when?” (1:14).
As the evening hosting the Netivot came to an end, I sat down next to another local yishuv family to chat. Suddenly, we noticed that the room began to clear out. We did not think of it much, and kept talking. And then, my friend looked down at her phone, and noticed that there were two Code Reds in Hashmonaim at that moment. The party kept going on, the music kept playing, and we did not move. We knew that we were in the safest part of the building, so there was not imminent danger.
Ironically, the band was playing a Mizrachi version of the song Yedid Nefesh (Beloved of the soul), a tune usually sung on Friday nights in synagogue. The verse he sang as we noticed the siren announcement is as follows:
הגלה נא ופרש חביבי עלי את סכת שלומך
תאיר ארץ מכבודך נגילה ונשמחה בך
מהר אהב כי בא מועד וחננו כימי עולם
Please be revealed and spread upon me, my Beloved, the shelter of Your peace. Illuminate the world with Your glory that we may rejoice and be glad with You. Hasten, show love, for the time has come, and show us grace of days of old(written by Rabbi Eliyahu Azikri, Israeli Kabbalist from the 16th century).
There needs to be no explanation for the connections between the song and our current situation in Israel. To the reader, I am sure it is quite clear that we are aching for the peace we all deserve!
After the event that evening, we all returned home, satisfied that we had perhaps made one evening slightly easier for all. By nightfall the following evening, I had heard that one of the families who we hosted from Netivot had a rocket fall in their backyard while we hosted them for the evening. We truly provided a סוכת שלום (dwelling of peace) for that family. May we continue to be able to shelter our brethren from the storm.