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Jerry Klinger
Shaping the Future by Remembering the Past

The Lion’s Trail Beit Jann – “The Tenth Man”

Beit Jann

The Hamas war is not just about Jews – it is about people everywhere who do not wish to live under the tyranny of a foreign, theocratic-centered dictatorship.

For the past 15 months, the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation has placed Lions of Judah across Israel. The Lions are a series, the Lion’s Trail.

The purpose of the Trail is to create a cultural and historical journey reflecting Jewish historical presence and legitimacy in the Land. It counters those who deny it.

Lions have been placed in Ein Keshatot – Golan, Kiryat Shemona, Nesher, Yokneam, Beit Jann, Beit She’an, Ariel, Maaleh Adumim, Gush Etzion and Dimona.

The Lions are powerful, stoical giants, 9’ in height, 11’ if you include the bases.  They are the sculptural creations of noted artist Sam Philipe, a sixth-generation Jerusalemite. Nothing like them exists in Israel.

With skill and focus, not infrequently with considerable courage, Sam has stayed the course to complete what others would have shied away from.

The Hamas war against humanity changed the Lions.

The Lions have become symbols, messaging, memorializing beyond what could have been imagined.

In the opening days of the horrible, unwanted war, Israel was dazed.

How to understand what had happened?

The Lion of Kiryat Shemona became a symbol. People came and lit candles at its base, mourning what had happened and what would happen. Sam sent me a photograph from Kiryat. He explained the meaning to my Galut eyes.

“Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, thou art gone up. He stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as a lioness; who shall rouse him up? Genesis 49:9”

The fighting raged North and South.  Lions continued to be installed.

The Beit Jann Lion was finally installed this week. It had been repeatedly delayed because of missile attacks and alerts to the Meron area. It is the tenth in the Lion’s Trail series.

Beit Jann is a small town perched on a Galilean mountainside.  It is one of the larger Druze towns in Israel.  The Druze made a choice in 1948 during Israel’s War of Independence.  They could ally themselves with the broader Pan-Arab nationalist movement to exterminate Israel. They could remain neutral and see what may happen but would have to remain wary of their long, complicated history with the traditional Muslim world if Israel should be defeated.  Or they could choose to ally themselves with Israel in their common struggle for toleration and independence.

The Druze chose to fight with Israel. They have been essential allies ever since.

The Lion’s Trail Beit Jann’s dedicatory text reads:

“The Lion’s Trail – The Lion of Brotherhood

“How good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”

 Psalms 33:1 – King David

The Jewish and Druze people have lived here for over millennia.

Donated by the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation In cooperation with Netivei Israel, Bet Jan Council, and Nasige Organization

Sculptor: Sam Philipe May 2024”

Unbeknownst to JASHP, until the pictures from the installation came back, the Beit Jann and Druze communities saw a meaning that we did not fully appreciate.

When Hamas attacked on October 7, they attacked without any consideration of who they attacked.  They only wished to kill, to rape, to kidnap, to destroy the “other.” They attacked without discriminating between Jews, Christians, Arab Buddhists, males, females, young, old, and innocents from around the world.

Hamas was drunk with elation.

In the ensuing Gaza fighting, IDF Jews, Christians, Muslims, Arabs, and Druze have fallen: too too many.

Beit Jann and the Druze community transformed the Lion of Beit Jann by adding photographs of the Druze fallen about the base of the Lion.  The images of the fallen are grouped in fours flanked by the flags of Israel and the Druze community.

The Lion’s Trail of Beit Jann, the story of recognition of commonality and brotherhood, was transformed into a War Memorial of painful, poignant, and significant meaning.

We are in this struggle together.

There is a broader understanding of October 7, which is incredulously obscured by the willful evil of many in the World Media.  The Hamas War is more than a narrow war of self-defense and preservation.  It is a world war of ideologies to which Israel was the initial appetizer in the longer goal, the destruction of the West.

When LGBTQ communities in the U.S. come out strongly supporting Hamas over Israel, do not they understand that they will have to learn to fly when they are thrown off high buildings when the Islamists take over?

What part of “From the River to the Sea” is not understood as the opening salvo of world struggle, of “God Forbid,” World War?

Early in the Hamas War, JASHP visited the Border Kibbutzim to distribute needed medical equipment. Hamas and the Gazans had stolen everything. We proposed gifting a different type of Lion for the Gaza story. The Lion would be the biggest in Israel, over 30’. Its dedication text is from the Prophet Amos 1:6-7.

“6 Thus saith the LORD: For three transgressions of Gaza, yea, for four, I will not reverse it: because they carried away captive a whole captivity, to deliver them up to Edom.

7  So will I send a fire on the wall of Gaza, and it shall devour the palaces thereof;”

Militarily, Israel is winning the War. Continuing Israeli social and political disarray has stalled the gift.  The offer of the gift remains on the table for an appropriate site.

The Lion’s Trail began innocently enough. However, its meaning, its continuing meaning, and its future meaning are changing.

 

About the Author
Jerry is the president and founder of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, www.JASHP.org. He is the son of Survivors of Buchenwald and Bergen Belsen. He is a former Yeshivah student and served with the IDF in the Sinai. He is the author of hundreds of articles in publications ranging from the Jerusalem Post to the Prairie Connection to the San Diego Jewish World. Jerry is frequently interviewed on T.V. and Radio about the American Jewish experience. The Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation has completed projects in 43 US. States and in 8 countries. Over 7,000,000 people annually benefit from one of JASHP's efforts. JASHP has completed over 25 projects in and for Israel ranging from the restoration and preservation of the disgracefully deteriorated grave site of Shlomo Cohen, the composer of the Hativah, to the S.S. Exodus and more. November 29, 2022, Netanya: JASHP completed the first-ever historical memorial to the central birthing event of the modern state of Israel - the U.N. Partition Resolution. JASHP is presently working towards another first for Israel, a tribute sculpture honoring the Women of the IDF.