Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Days 6-8: Shabbat and Departure

Shabbat and Departure

Friday-Sunday, August 18-20, 2006

Shabbat was a time when Ofer, Hadar, and family celebrated together. On Shabbat morning, countless numbers of men, soldiers and civilians, rose to recite Birkat Hagomel, the blessing of thanksgiving to God for having protected them during the war. I had never seen so many recite this blessing, and yet, here in Israel, it was all so normal.

As Shabbat drew to a close, a couple introduced themselves to me as Sammy and Lea Zeria. They had just moved to Riverdale, and had come to Israel to be married up North at the beginning of the war. Their wedding was called off. And so, they were one of the fifty couples from up North married in a mammoth ceremony in Tel Aviv. As beautiful as that was, there had been no simcha dancing for them alone. So there we were, celebrating the wedding of Hadar and Ofer, turning it into a double ceremony, as Hadar and Ofer’s family became the larger family of Sammy and Lea, dancing and singing and giving them joy.

On Sunday I flew by helicopter with Boaz, Yossi’s brother, to Haifa. Boaz lives in California, and is planning to bring thirty CEOs from Orange County to Israel in a few months, and flew to Haifa to help plan the visit.

I had never seen Israel from the air. But flying from Haifa south over Israel, looking down at the mountains, the villages, the cities, Yerushalayim near the Knesset and the Old City and the Western Wall, and the Temple mount, shows one the grandiose beauty of Eretz Yisrael. Every part of our land is different, much like our people. From the air it looked so peaceful.

No doubt, it will take long to overcome the emotions of this War Without a Name. In time, there will be some serious political and military fallout. Hard questions are already being asked. My sense is that this war was a preliminary war to the one yet to come with Iran. Hopefully, we will have learned from our mistakes.

Driving to Ben Gurion to make the flight to the US, Yossi and I stopped at Patrick’s home. He and his family were in the last night of shiva. By now we recognized each other. Sitting near him, I whispered, “Le-olam lo eshkach” – we will never forget Daniel. With a soft smile he said, “tell your community, thank you, thank you for caring.” We embraced. Tears flowed from my eyes.

Day 1: Arrival and Visiting the Family of Daniel Gomez
Day 2: Rambam Hospital, Greenberg Unveiling and Gomez Funeral
Day 3: Kiryat Shmona and Tsfat
Day 4: Maalot and Goldwasser Family in Nahariya
Day 5: A Wedding in Jerusalem
Days 6-8: Shabbat and Departure

Diary of Rabbi Avi Weiss' Trip to Israel During the War

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