My Journey Through a Different Israel

In the days after my recent return from a mission to Israel, vivid details keep coming to mind. The experience was profound—a deep dive into a nation grappling with momentous challenges.

Just flying into Israel—the intense security protocols served as a stark reminder of the heightened vigilance now required. And beyond the airport lay a country deeply scarred by the events of the past six months. Despite my previous visits to Israel during periods of conflict, the reality struck me differently this time.

The aftermath of the October 7 attacks has cast a long shadow over Israel, with its physical and psychological toll reverberating everywhere. Amidst this turmoil, a singular focus grips the nation—that of the hostages. The suffering of families torn apart and held captive has permeated daily life. For the last four months, 200,000 Israelis have been displaced within Israel, and are now living in hotels.

Upon visiting Hostage Square in Tel Aviv, I found myself immersed in the collective anguish. The solemnity of makeshift memorials and the ticking countdown clock served as poignant reminders of the urgency and scale of the crisis.

In a nation as isolated from its neighbors as Israel, the absence of the usual visitors from the rest of the world is deeply felt. The individuals I encountered found solace in knowing that I represented the global community. They feel a real connection with a world that has extended support not only through financial aid and resources, but also through individuals making the trip to show their solidarity.

Our journey led us to Kibbutz Be’eri. The charred remains of buildings and homes stood juxtaposed against bustling communal spaces where residents continue to rebuild their lives—a testament to their indomitable spirit. Walking and talking with survivors, I heard their stories of loss and marveled at their determination and perseverance moving forward. The response of ordinary citizens was equally inspiring, with volunteers stepping forward to offer aid in any way they could.

Despite the war, glimmers of hope have surfaced, embodied by new organizations like Project Mashiv Ha’Ruach, offering solace to those in need. Volunteers, once strangers, united in their shared mission of healing Israel’s wounds. And our Federation team members in Israel—Barak Loozon, Ester Biro, and Lia Kazaz—have demonstrated extraordinary professionalism and an aptitude for building bridges across communities.

Experiencing a country embroiled in such a conflict offered a sobering perspective on the toll it takes on every single Israeli. Yet despite the tremendous hardships, I witnessed a different kind of strength—a resilience born from solidarity.

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Categories: Overseas, Israel, Leadership


March 21, 2024


David Green