A Response to Simon Hardy Butler’s “My Parents Landed in Israel”

Your parents are on that long return flight today “across that great pond”, back to the place you call home, New York City.

As you correctly stated in your blog of October 22, they are returning from a trip to the State of Israel, a country founded almost 70 years ago by some of your “fellow Jews”. As the individual who had the great pleasure of serving as your parents tour guide on their trip, I can assure you that their first-hand knowledge of this country’s establishment has been greatly enhanced as a result of their visit here.

To “vacation” in Israel is often unlike any other vacation you may take. It is often an exhausting vacation, both physically and especially mentally and emotionally.

Quite simply, as a Jew, you cannot visit places like Yad Vashem or the Western Wall and simply check them off your bucket list of places to see. While in Israel, you are constantly being hit over the head with both the ancient/Biblical narrative of the Land as well as with the current narrative, and all that lays in between.

You are correct when you state that the motivation of our Founding Fathers (and Mothers!) was to establish a country of our own, “to be a respite from anti-Semitism and the persecution” that has (and unfortunately still does) followed the Jews from destination to destination.

I spoke to your mother about her fundraising efforts on behalf of Israel in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War. Our hotel up north was just a few miles from where Syrian tanks, in a surprise attack, invaded Israel on the Holiest Day of our year. You all most definitely have Israel in your blood. And your parents dream of visiting Israel has finally been fulfilled.

Upon our arrival in Jerusalem, after a long days drive from the north, we drove up to the top of Mount Scopus to scope out the city below. And as your parents tried to take it all in, we recalled how for generations and generations, your family has exclaimed every single year at the conclusion of their Passover Seder “Next Year in Jerusalem”. And now finally, after all those years and all those prayers of your ancestors, it is your parents who have fulfilled the prayers recited by your ancestors for generations.

I expect that you will receive a full report from your parents. You will hear about our visit to Independence Hall in Tel Aviv where the State of Israel was declared by David Ben Gurion on May 14, 1948. You will learn about the Palmach and the sacrifice so many made to make it all possible.

I also expect that you’ll hear about King Herod and Caesarea and Masada and the Western wall. About Cananites, Israelites, Jews, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Ummayads, Crusaders, Mamelukes, Ottomans, British and Palestinians.

So stop being jealous and stop dreaming. Strike the Iron while it is still hot. Book those tickets for both you and your wife. You’re too old for Birthright, so you’ll have to do this on your own. Come and revel in the hot weather and hummus! Come and be amazed at how a People on the brink of destruction have reinvented themselves in the 21st century.

Your parents have paved the way for you. And now it’s your turn to start a new page. You too are part of that long chain that stretches back across the generations of “Next Year in Jerusalem”. Come and also be a fulfillment of your ancestor’s heartfelt prayers.

Come to the place that your family helped create and experience first-hand the pride that you so rightfully feel.

We pray for your safety in New York City.

This Year in Jerusalem!

 

 

About the Author
Rabbi Weiss was born in Miami Beach, Florida and served as Chabad community Rabbi in Teaneck, New Jersey for 21 years. He made Aliyah in July 2003 and is the author of "You Come For One Reason But Stay For Another." He is a licensed Tour Guide, father of 12, and resides in Mitzpeh Yericho.
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