My wife Stacy and I are currently on a “mission” to Israel with our NYC synagogue, KJ. The evacuation and relocation of hundreds of thousands of civilians from both the Northern frontier with Lebanon and the Southern envelope by Gaza, coupled with the mobilization of over 300,000 reservists, and the ensuing war being conducted both in Gaza and in the North, has transformed Israel into a country in a state of war. We have seen how civil society – not the military, not the government, but ordinary citizens — have stepped up to fill the voids caused by the war-footing of the economy. We have seen how brand new civic organizations have been created to supply this vast number of evacuees with food, shelter, clothing, education and spiritual/emotional sustenance. These same civic groups, together with charities and benefactors, are supplying reservists with sleeping bags, backpacks, drones, protective ceramic vests and other necessities. Volunteering citizens are everywhere and pitching in to help. The resilience of the Israeli society is astounding.
Yesterday we went to a number of the border areas (Kfar Aza, Sderot and Ofakim) where Hamas massacred innocents. We heard eyewitness stories of amazing bravery and sacrifice, and saw with our own eyes, and heard from eyewitnesses stories of, the mayhem and destruction Hamas wrought. (All this while artillery was booming in the background, drones were buzzing in the sky and Iron Dome interceptors were being launched nearby.) We met with mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and sons and daughters of those taken hostage and those who were butchered. We ate and danced with Israeli reservist soldiers – at a southern military base that had been overrun by the Hamas terrorists on October 7th and retaken by a platoon of largely women soldiers.
And what was the message we heard from all of the Israelis we met — those who suffered terrible losses, those who are agonizing over their family members in Gazan captivity, those who are fighting on the borders and those who are ordinary Israeli citizens? That Israel will triumph, that Israel will persevere and that Israel will overcome all obstacles – and, that Israel is united like never before.