And now for something different…In one week we mark 4 months into this unasked-for war. We need you to come to Israel. Yes, you are reading correctly. We need you to come to Israel. We are your brothers and sisters and this is the hardest time our country has ever known. We are truly grateful for the millions of dollars you have sent us; we also really long for and need the emotional boost that comes from your physical presence.
While it is hard to explain, life here has moved to what we sadly call, the routine of war. Each morning, our hearts skip a beat until the announcements of the war casualties at 6 am. If there are none, we breathe easier that day. If it’s a bad day, we go about our lives with a heavy heart and take comfort knowing that every single one of us is feeling the same way. No explanations needed to anyone, anywhere. We think incessantly about the hostages, feeling the chill in their not-warmly-dressed-enough bones during these freezing and rainy times. And we go through our days a little less carefree knowing that at least 100,000 of our people have no idea when they will again sleep in their own beds. It would be easier to carry these burdens if more of you were here to share them with us.
Why else is this the right time for you to visit?
Jews all over the world have the obligation to bear witness to the slaughter in the South. 10’s of 1000’s do the March of the Living in Poland every year. Well, sadly, there is no need to wait half a century to commemorate this tragedy.
The unprecedented volunteer effort flourishing in every sector of society could use your help. Light (or heavy) farming, cooking, packing food parcels, delivering meals, sorting clothes, setting up apartments for evacuees, visiting recovering soldiers, making shiva calls, and literally hundreds of other tasks await you.
If you are not inclined to volunteer, then come here and boost the economy through being a tourist, who has to sleep, eat and be busy, providing much needed income to hotels, restaurants, shops, rental car companies, and tour guides (personal plug for David Ebstein!)
We want to commiserate with you about your experiences being our advocates in your countries, and what it feels like to deal with raw anti-Semitism.
Hesitations? Here are some responses…
It’s dangerous to be in Israel: I am sure the death toll in your home city from crime/car accidents/mass shootings is 100’s of times higher than anything happening here now to people who aren’t soldiers on the Northern or Southern border (even when you factor in the occasional terror incident).
Everything is closed so what will I do? Everything is open except for things very close to the Northern or Southern borders. All major tourist attractions are open, and there are no lines. It’s easy to get reservations at restaurants that normally have long lead times. And everyone will greet you with a welcoming smile (well, almost everyone, these are Israelis after all) and a thank you for coming.
I am very busy at work right now: I know people who still talk about how life changing it was for them when they came to Israel to volunteer during the 67’ and 73’ wars. Today’s volunteers are reporting similar experiences. The time is now.
Flights are super expensive: There are at least 4 major airlines flying now (United, Delta, American and El-Al) with more to come, so the airfares are becoming more competitive.
Tough to get travelers insurance: I can send you links to companies that will happily insure you (just don’t use IMGlobal-but that is another story).
The hotels are full of evacuees: Most hotels do not have evacuees in them. There are plenty of available rooms.
I don’t want to come alone: If you can’t entice anyone you know into joining you, there are literally thousands of people visiting and volunteering all over Israel. You will make friends everywhere you go, and you wan’t be alone for long…
I am too old to be helpful: There is volunteer work that can be done sitting down.
I am not good at Social Media and am unable to make my own arrangements for volunteering: there are organized trips going all the time, or you can pay someone to put together a trip for you and your friends.
I hope this has been compelling for you. Here is my final thought…Consider coming to Israel to celebrate something- a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a renewal of your wedding vows, a major birthday, a promotion at work, the birth of a grandchild, recovery from an illness etc etc.
Please reach out to me if you have any questions, and PLEASE SHARE THIS everywhere you think it needs to be seen. Am Yisrael Chai!