Sharing the Latest from on the Ground: A Message from Shari Merrill

Image of Israel with sun in sky and text overlaid reads: Rabbinic Mission to Israel

I am proud to share the latest from our Federation Rabbinic Mission to Israel, which concludes today following a whirlwind 57 hours on the ground.

Our CEO, Gil Preuss, and eight local Greater Washington rabbis and spiritual leaders witnessed the devastation from the recent violence throughout the region, and engaged in dialogue and learning about the complexities in the region and the continued impact on Israeli society.

The itinerary was robust, intense, and invaluable in working towards greater understanding and connection with Israel. Their meetings included a thoughtful conversation with Talia Levanon, Director of the Israel Trauma Coalition. Formed 15 years ago, this central organization focuses on helping those impacted by trauma and working to support and strengthen the resilience of communities affected by tragedy.

The group also visited with an Israeli woman whose home in Ashkelon was destroyed during the most recent attacks. When asked what enabled her to be so strong despite the tragedy, she shared, “I am the mother of this family. This is what I have to do. I have to think of my family first. I can only think about myself when they are asleep.”

As Gil shared in an update to Federation’s Board of Directors yesterday evening, this was an incredibly emotional conversation, and one that helped the group better understand how the conflict has affected people on the ground.

Today, the mission visited Lod. As you may recall from earlier updates, our Federation is deeply connected with Lod and neighboring cities where the work of building a shared society is both delicate and vital. Our friends and partners in Lod were at the center of the recent crisis, and today’s visit was designed to help the group experience how identities and the dynamics of shared societies are shifting in Israel.

As the Mission participants return home, it will be with a shared sense of understanding and commitment to strengthening communal ties, with one another and with Israel. We know these dedicated leaders will also seize the opportunity to reflect upon and share their unique experiences and insights with our community. We are grateful for the ability to facilitate this powerful and meaningful experience, and look forward to sharing additional updates and reflections from Israel with you in the near future.

Wishing our colleagues a nesiyah tovah (a safe journey),

Shari Merrill
Chief Impact Officer
The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

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