Ten days spent visiting an indomitable nation and a resolute people.
A dream, a nightmare, an adventure, a homage. From the depths of southern slaughter to inconceivable heights of heroism. From working on farms abutting Gaza to working with the displaced children of the north. Throughout this emotional journey front and center are our courageous soldiers fighting a just war not of their choosing. From the battle staging areas to the graduation ceremony of the next generation of Jewish officers leading from the front. All are defending our lone, diminutive Jewish state but they are also defending every Jew everywhere. Whatever we can give to them it is nothing compared to the sacrifices they make for all of us.
All that said the ten days were meant to be seven days. However, I was anxious to extend the duration of my stay when a last-minute opportunity arose to visit the scenes of the October 7 pogrom which had reawakened in me generational trauma likely not limited to descendants of Holocaust survivors like me.
Extending the trip involved time consuming and rather expensive alterations to the itinerary. My son- who now lives in Israel- asked me why I was so determined not to miss this opportunity. My answer was straightforward. “It is for the same reason that during your gap year in Israel, I sent you to visit Auschwitz.”
We must bear witness to the afflictions and suffering of our people so it should never be conveniently denied or forgotten by the world at large. Thus, we also pay tribute to our holy martyrs who perished simply for being Jewish.
So, I journeyed south. The scars of indiscriminate massacre were horrifying. The first-person testimonies of the locals were nothing short of shattering.
Throughout history we have paid a terrible price for who we are, but we will not surrender our identity forged in conflicts past. The threat will be channeled into energy and prayer dedicated to the state of Israel, the people of Israel, the soldiers of Israel, the hostages of Israel and the injured of Israel.
In ten days, I witnessed much about our glorious ability to rise once more and rise we will with determination and purpose.
In just ten days a life can change – even in the advanced stages of it.
Am Yisrael Chai!!