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Adele Raemer
Life on the Border with the Gaza Strip

Allies from the Christian Communities Abroad

Posted by Adele Raemer on Monday, February 26, 2024

Since October 7, I have had the privilege and honor of participating in two delegations to speak with legislators in the US and in Berlin. Recently, I traveled again coming on the heels of previous connections I had had with the members of the organization “The International Fellowship of Chrsitians and Jews“. I had hosted a few of their reps for a visit and tour of Nirim a few years ago, and then some time after Swords of Iron begain, a was interviewed by Yael Eckstein, herself, the daughter of the founder of this inspiring initiative also  known simply as IFCN, for one of their podcasts.  A few weeks after that podcast, I was invited to participate in a large Christian media conference that takes place in the United States every year.

Although recently retired, I have taken on two new “jobs”. One is that of telling the story of October 7th to the world, as one who lived through and survived it. A no less important task is that  regarding my community of Kibbutz Nirim: raising money to rebuild our community. Today, for the most part, we are still functioning in “survival mode”, away from home, trying to get our footing in yet another temporary abode, dealing with traumatized children, supporting the families of the hostages and the slaughtered, while attempting to preserve our sense of community – not an easy task when spread out over 4 neighborhoods in Beersheva. On October 7th we faced an existential threat to our lives.  Today, we face an existential threat to our community and our region. When the time comes and we can finally begin to heal, when we can return home, we as a community are striving to be bigger, better, stronger, safer and more resilient than ever before. That is the only way that families with children will want to return, and new families will want to join us.

While this specific trip was not for the purpose of raising funds directly for Nirim, it was clear to me that this would be an opportunity for significant exposure, both for the benefit of understanding the situation here in Israel on October 7th and since then, as well as possibly opening more doors for the future.  The sites of slaughter and destruction that the western media have heard about are mostly the three most severely ravaged kibbutzim: Be’eri, Kfar Aza and Nir Oz, as well as the Nova Music Festival.  However the impact was on so many other kibbutzim, moshavim and towns in the entire region, and I felt that that information was sort of getting lost.  If “only” one kibbutz had been infiltrated on that tragic day, say: “only” Nirim, with “only” 5 people slaughtered and “only” 5 men and women kidnapped to Gaza, it would have been considered a devastating event. It would have made the breaking news headlines around the world,  and justified the IDF embarking on a ground invasion to prevent any such massacres from happening again. But it didn’t “just” happen on one kibbutz. The attacks were 100-fold, and it’s hard enough for us who live here, to get our heads around it. How do we help people who live abroad comprehend the immenseness of these genocidal attacks? In my  mind, we need to do it by breaking it down into comprehensible pieces, putting a person behind a name, a place and statistics.

The National Religious Broadcasters’ Convention (NRB), where I was brought to speak, is the world’s largest gathering of Christian media professionals and professionals.  The goal of the conference was to learn practical skills through a variety of keynote events, workshops and panel discussions from more than 100 speakers, for Christian media professionals. Equally important was the opportunity to make connections with thousands of Christian media colleagues.

Panel discussion with Gov Mike Huckabee Photo: Gidi Schmerling used with permission

The opening event for me was my participation on a panel, where I was interviewed by the former governor of the state of Arkansas, Gov Mike Huckabee, a very well-known, influential figure in the United States. After that, for two intense days, I was interviewed by a number of Christian media people who have provend to be staunch supporters, partners in the path of the people of Israel and the State of Israel, including Pastor Paul Lanier and his wife Debbie, Adrienne Bankart from News Nation, Sheila Walsh from TBN, Billy Hallwell from the Faithwire stations and CBN, Larry Brock Israel Insight, Robbie Schwartz at pray.com, Laurie Cardozza Moore at pjtn.org, Byron Tyler from Bott Radio, and more (I apologize if I left anyone out).

Photo:L Gidi Schmerling – used with permission

In every interview I told about my personal and family experience from our saferooms on October 7th, about the experience of the entire kibbutz – as individuals and as a community. I told about the tragedies and also about the small miracles that happened. I described our struggles as individuals and as a community, refugees in our country since that Black Sabbath, about the hard work that so many do to maintain, preserve and even strengthen our agriculture branches, our resiliance as a kibbutz and about the challenges that still lie ahead of us, before we can ever return home. And of course, of course about our dear murdered friends and our five kidnapped people from Nirim, two of whom – Nirim born and raised – are still languishing under ground, 145 days as of the writing of this post, inside Gaza, in the terror tunnels of the Hamas, along with 132 other Israelis alive and dead.

Before returning to Israel, I stopped for the weekend to be with my family in the Washington area, so “on the way”, I visited the Sabbath Table that the Jewish community organizes on Fridays, inspired by our Sabbath Table at “Hostage Square” in Tel Aviv. Then, on Sunday, I addressed members of the Washington DC area Jewish community, who hold a weekly vigil for Israel and for the return of the hostages, in front of the American Red Cross building.

The Sabbath Table for the Hostages at The Mall, Washington DC . Photo: Danna Gutman – used with permission
Addressing a vigil for the hostages in front of the ARC building.

As opposed to what we read and hear in the conventional media and on the various social media, where the venomous antisemitism and anti Zionism is rife, this trip enabled me to witness much support and love. We in Israel received many heart-felt blessings and reinforcements there, and I learned how much the Christian community in the United States truly sees themselves as partners with the Jewish people, sharing our fates and actively working to strengthen and protect us. I am happy to pass this message on, so that others can know, too, grateful to Yael and Gidi for entrusting me with this mission.

Post-script: Once again, I have had to write this without the magic touch of my dear, forever-editor Judih Haggai Weinstein who was slaughtered together with her husband on Oct 7 while out on their sunrise walk, and whose bodies are still being held captive in Gaza. 

About the Author
Born in the USA, Adele has lived in a Kibbutz on the border with the Gaza Strip since 1975. She is a mother and a grandmother living and raising her family on the usually paradisaical, sometimes hellishly volatile border. She moderates a FB group named "Life on the Border". https://goo.gl/xcwZT1 Adele recently retired after 38 years as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language, as well as a teacher trainer and counselor for the Israeli MoE for EFL and a Tech Integration Coach. She blogs here about both Life on the Border, as well as about digital pedagogy, in "Digitally yours, @dele". She is a YouTuber, mostly on the topic of digital stuff. (https://goo.gl/iBVMEG) Her personal channel covers other issues close to her heart (medical clowning, Life on the Border, etc.) (https://goo.gl/uLP6D3) In addition, she is a trained medical clown and, although on COVID hiatus, until allowed back into hospitals, she clowns as often as she can in the pediatric ward in the hospital in Ashkelon. As a result of her activity as an advocate for her region, she was included among the Ha'aretz "Ten Jewish Faces who made Waves in 2018" https://goo.gl/UrjCNB. In November 2018 she was invited to Geneva by an independent investigative committee for the UN to bear witness to the border situation, and in December 2019 addressed the UN Security Council at the request of the US ambassador to the UN.
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