Maury Kelman
Maury Kelman

Israel’s Greatest Natural Resource

Following the powerful commemoration of Yom HaZikaron, when we paid homage to some 24,000 righteous people killed while defending and living in Israel, the country turns to the great celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut . Whereas Yom HaZikaron commemorates many holy lives, on Yom HaAtzmaut we celebrate life and appreciate what we have. While Israel is absolutely a miracle in so many different ways, the success or failure of a country is a function of its people.  Israelis may have a fairly well-deserved reputation for not always being the politest and might perhaps, perhaps, just a bit, be termed aggressive, but at the same time there is a pervading sense of family among Israelis.

It is not coincidental that Israelis are called sabras, which are prickly on the outside and sweet on the inside. While I could give many examples of the “only in Israel” great experiences, I want to share with you something that just happened on Monday, when we got a flat tire. As the spare tire is stored under this car, we needed a special tool to release it, but the tool was missing from the toolbox.  I then remembered an article about an organization called Yedidim, which helps people with car issues.  Finding the number online, we called and a friendly operator, after taking down the location of the car and my phone number, said someone would be in touch.

Within literally three minutes I received a call from Tzur, who confirmed both the car problem and location and appeared about five minutes later.  While he was trying to figure out a solution, another volunteer called and arrived two minutes later.  Even though I told him that another volunteer had already arrived, he said he was happy to come and would be there momentarily, which he was (imagine being sick and two separate doctors arrive at your home to take care of you, happy to work with each other to get you better).  With a smile and can-do attitude, Nadav, with Tzur’s assistance, came, saw and conquered the problem.  From my report of the problem until I could drive away took under 30 minutes.

Thanking them profusely, I told them that I felt bad that I had no present to offer them, but they said with tremendous sincerity that they were happy to do the mitzvah for its own sake. They also told me that they can help up to five people a day and Nadav mentioned that every day on the way home from work he checks the Yedidim postings and he happily makes whatever stops are needed on his delayed way home from work in order to help people.  While they were finishing up with me another call for help was posted on the system.  Nadav was about to respond that he would go directly there but by the time he could send his message somebody else had already volunteered.  Nadav seemed disappointed. What amazing people we have in Israel.

This sense of helping others seems to be part of the Israeli ethos and helps explain the great success of this 73-year-old country, which is a leader and role model for the rest of the world.  What a simple yet beautiful experience this was, giving one the tangible sense of being part of a larger family here regardless of religious background or other factors.  In this organization set up purely to do good, there are hundreds of people literally on call to help, yet the only payment they take is a simple thank you. So, as we celebrate Yom HaAzmaut today and the great miracles that God has brought us, we should also appreciate the true outstanding natural resource of Israel, its people.

Yom Haatzmaut sameach.

About the Author
Maury Kelman is a rabbi and attorney, chairman of Kedma, rabbi of Congregation Agudath Achim and also oversees Route 613, a halakhic conversion program.
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