Below are my Facebook posts from Israel, in chronological order.
No. 1: Jerusalem
I am in quarantine, but I don't care. Every visitor to Israel has to isolate until they receive the results of their serological test. Hopefully, the results come soon.
But I really don't care either way. I look out my window, and in the distance I can see this scene. And as I look at it, I think about how many people in previous generations dreamed of just catching a glimpse of this view, just for a few seconds. People like Alana Zouda Yitzhak, who arrived from Ethiopia in 1991 as part of Operation Solomon. And his first night in Jerusalem, a reporter asked him for his reaction. He said the following:
“We can’t go downstairs, because we won’t find the room again,” he admitted with a grin. “But I don’t care what I will do here. I can say that I arrived here, and every hour I say, blessed be the name of God.”
I cannot agree more. Looking out my window I say, blessed be the name of God.
No. 2: Ashkelon
Ashkelon bore the brunt of last week's attacks. This city of 60,000 was barraged with over 1,000 rockets last week, and has been under attack for years. The trauma affects everyone; even a door slamming can cause people to jump. Gitty, the wife of a Chabad Shaliach, told how children cannot look at balloons, which for them, is associated with incendiary devices from Gaza. Then we visited the home of Sigal Arielli, which received a direct hit. She was luckily in her mamad - in home shelter, which saved her life.
But despite the challenges, the human spirit can - and does - overcome. Gitty told me how her husband took an ice cream truck and gave out ice cream, so now they can find joy as they emerge from their shelters. Sigal spoke about the enormous support she has received from friends around the world; and the front of her house is now decorated with Israeli flags, a way of saying that she will rebuild, and so will all of Israel. #UJANewYork
No. 3: Lod
Our visit to Lod was the most difficult of our trip. We visited the area of the riots. We spoke to Jews and Arabs about the personal tragedy of the violence, and the damage done to the social fabric of the entire city.
The apartment pictured was burned, and nearly entirely destroyed - yet the family made it clear immediately that they would come back and rebuild. And on the wall hangs the one item that was not destroyed - a metal cutout decoration, with a prayer that says: "may joy, health, prosperity, blessing, and peace dwell in this house." Even after disaster, there are prayers and there is hope. And as our group leaves, we add our own prayers for this beloved country, which is rebuilding. May it be filled with joy, blessing, and peace as well. #ujanewyork