Mitzvah Mission 2014 Day 3
There is a sense of safety that we feel being in the land of Israel. It is so hard to explain logically, especially given the terrible massacre at Har Nof this morning. With the ocean to our west, we faced Jerusalem to daven the morning service, wrapped by the swirling breeze off the Mediterranean.
There are many troubling aspects about this morning’s terror attack, from the timing to the place, the setting, and the methods. Of particular concern to the Israelis we encountered throughout the day is the fact that this attack did not occur in some West Bank town. The quiet neighborhood in the far west of Jerusalem represents every person’s neighborhood. The synagogue at the time of prayer represents the most secure of hours. That sense of tranquility and security was shattered this morning, and the reverberations were felt throughout the day.
Like everyone else, we threw ourselves into our work. As we painted, we sang Al kol eileh (“For the bitter and the sweet”), so appropriate for the mixed emotions we were experiencing. Surrounded by children scarred by their abusive homes and a society scarred by the abuse of her neighbors, we recommitted ourselves to creating something remarkable through which our impact would be felt. (Okay, some of us worked, and others of us directed!)
After an emotional goodbye with Yoav, Ahava’s executive director, we visited the Technion (Israel’s Institute of Technology), Israel’s first institute of higher learning founded in 1912. Danny Shapiro, Director of Public Affairs and a longtime friend of our own Aram Schwartz, presented us with a history of the institute. The Technion, in its first century, has responded to each of Israel’s needs, ranging from the development of its infrastructure to the development of the Iron Dome. It represents the bright, optimistic, hopeful side of Israel as a producer and exporter of creativity, self-reliance, medical and technological advancement.
Tonight, as I write this blog, the sounds of a public singalong could be heard in the hotel lobby, reminding us all that this is Israel. We sing, we celebrate life, and we awaken to each day with a sense of purpose. Tonight, we all feel safe.
Rabbi Craig Scheff