Laura Ben-David
Sharing Israel with the world through my lens

Words do make a difference

As many of us have been churning out articles and posts to try and alleviate the incredible pain that we have all been feeling the past week, we have also been inundated with replies. Personally I have received supportive and sometimes critical comments on my articles, dozens and dozens of retweets on Twitter, some incredibly nasty replies from Arabs and Arab-sympathizers on Twitter, and lots of emails as well. Nothing got to me like the following letter from a rabbi in Florida, (reprinted here with his permission). While it is addressed to me, it is no doubt meant for all of us:

Dear Laura (and to your entire family),

There is something I have to share, to express, and I think you’re the best person to express these thoughts to.

Although Jewish people living in the United States have their challenges, I think it is fair to say that for the most part, we’re very comfortable.  The freedoms we enjoy today have never been part of the Jewish historical experience.  Even in the best of times, there were lines that could not be crossed, statements that could not be uttered, privileges that could not be taken.  Today, those shackles do not exist.

I think what many, even in the religious community, tend to overlook is the reality that a great part of the security we enjoy here is directly related to the contribution families like yours provide in the State of Israel.  As much as we want to believe that we’re “at home” here, the reality is that we are not.  We may have flourished here, but this is not our land.  It belongs to others, and it’s their value system that thrives here, and in a very subtle way influences everyone.

I shudder to think what Jewish life would be like here if Israel as it exists today and has since its inception did not exist.  I’m not going to delve into the “what if” scenario because, thank G-d I don’t have to!!  That having been said, I think many take for granted what YOU provide for us.  Do the people of the United States feel what you feel in light of the 3 missing young students?  Do the people of the United States appreciate the contribution made by parents like you who send their children to the IDF – to defend a land we like to call ours even though we are not there?  Is anyone here required to do the same?  How many people here have the ability to “visit” Israel and stay in the finest hotels, enjoy the 6 star cuisine (especially breakfast) and return here refreshed and invigorated without knowing or choosing to see what daily life is really like in your part of the world? 

My purpose in writing this is to say thank you to YOU and your family.  Without you and the millions like you, I’m not certain who or what I would be from a Jewish perspective.  Your presence and contribution in Israel surpasses ANYTHING I can do, and is appreciated more than I can express.  From you, the logical response is “make Aliyah”.  You’re right.  I can give you MANY reasons why I’m still here.  Frankly, whatever validity said answers have is nullified by the reality that what we ask you to endure at times like this renders said answers as selfish and trivial.  For that I owe you an apology.

To conclude, let me say that I cannot express how much appreciation I have for your presence and contribution in our Holy Land.  

May we all merit to experience the final redemption, speedily in our days, together WHERE YOU ARE.

B’ahava rabba,
Rabbi Warren Kasztl

#BringBackOurBoys  Photo: Courtesy
#BringBackOurBoys Photo: Courtesy
About the Author
Laura Ben-David is a photographer, public speaker and Israel advocate. Inspired by her Aliyah experience, Laura began writing and never stopped. She is the author of the book, MOVING UP: An Aliyah Journal, a memoir of her move to Israel. She has spoken all over the world about Israel, Aliyah and other topics, often with beautiful photographic presentations. Formerly the head of social media at Nefesh B'Nefesh, Laura is the director of marketing at Shavei Israel as well as a marketing consultant.
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