Israel Mission Day 1 by Rabbi Adam Raskin

Originally posted on Facebook

It’s been a very moving day in Israel. This country is still very much grieving the horrific events of October 7th. There is also a deep sense of rage, frustration, and mistrust for the current government. At some point there will be a national reckoning, and it will be the next major event in the life of this country. The ongoing dilemma of how to prosecute the war to demolish Hamas AND have all of the hostages safely returned is on everyone’s minds. What is truly remarkable and uplifting amidst all of the grief is the spirit of unity, generosity, hospitality, and kindness that “regular” Israelis are showing one another. All the towns within 7 km of Gaza and 5 km of the northern border have been evacuated. That’s a quarter of a million displaced Israeli families, many living in hotels, in kibbutzim, with relatives, etc. until the war is over/they feel safe enough to return to whatever is left (for many, everything was lost, either by fire, looting, or to the ravages of neighborhoods that became battlefields).
The way these Israelis have been cared for by each other is truly miraculous. We visited Kibbutz Mishmar Ha’Emek in the north which absorbed 300 members of Kibbutz Nahal Oz, which was attacked on 10/7. When the traumatized families from Nahal Oz arrived with only the clothes on their backs (pajamas mostly, because the attack happened in the early morning) they were greeted with clothing, toiletries, clothes, shoes, bedding, diapers/formula, and lodging for up to a year if necessary! There is so much more to share…I’ve learned startling details of 10/7 that have not been reported in western media (the “second wave” of looting and ransacking of Israeli homes & property, the targeted violence against women, etc.); I have learned more about Iran’s responsibility for these attacks and the ongoing danger it presents to the region; about the response of Arab Israelis to 10/7 and the aftermath (including public repudiation of Hamas), how President Biden’s heartfelt support is so widely appreciated, and so much more. Tomorrow we head to the south, to visit the locale of the music festival, one of the kibbutzim that was attacked, and the hospital in Ashdod. I look forward to discussing this with you upon my return.