Israel Bonds Rabbinic Cabinet Mission, Day One
There are many reasons to be grateful for the gift of being in Israel: First, it is always a privilege to be here – something I never take for granted. Second, it isn’t snowing here in Tel Aviv (sorry, everyone!). Third, I get to see my daughter who is being released from her base for two days to join me on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Those reasons are all valid and meaningful. Tonight, however, I am grateful for a different reason.
I am filled with gratitude because I am traveling with thirty-two rabbis of all Jewish streams with the specific purpose of gaining an insider’s view of the work that is accomplished in this country with the income of Israel Bonds. Rabbi Marty Pasternak, Executive Director of the Synagogue Division of Bonds, jokingly introduced us to the itinerary, pointing out that rabbis are going to love putting on hard hats and gaining entrance to construction sites. While I am sure that hard hats, flashlights and tunnels would float Jonathan Drill’s boat, it is the opportunity to learn and to make connections with rabbis that really make me excited about this mission.
Our trip began with an opportunity for hands on chesed, an annual addition made to the itinerary by Rabbi Scheff. We visited one of the food distribution sites of Chasdei Naomi where we sorted produce and packed boxes of food staples for pick up by families in need. The work was satisfying but it felt like a mitzvah lifted higher by the introduction we received in a breathtaking talk given by founder Rabbi Yosef Cohen. Rabbi Cohen told us about growing up in the kind of poverty that one cannot understand unless one has known it. With tears of pure emotion, he shared stories of his youth that influenced him to found this agency that today distributes 300 tons of food to 10,000 hungry families, supporting Israelis in need with various kinds of assistance. For more information, see http://www.chasdei-naomi.org. Rabbi Cohen described bringing home a fresh loaf of bread and his mother’s putting it on a top shelf so that they would finish the older stale loaf before it went bad and precious food was wasted. He never had fresh bread as a child. Today he ensures that children do not go hungry. I was proud to be part of his mission, even for a few hours today.
There was, of course, much more learning, but you will all have an opportunity to hear many stories from Rabbi Scheff and me. For now, it is after eleven here with a 6:00 am wake-up call for morning minyan.
Laila tov from here and tzahariyim tovim there. Good night and good afternoon,
Rabbi Paula Mack Drill