By Gili & Uri Hershkovitz
Hello Everyone! In October-November, we are taking a look at an interesting aspect of Israel and learning some more about the complicated nature of Israel’s relationship with the world. We hope you enjoyed our first two events: “Israeli High-Tech,” where we explored some of the wonderful things made or imagined in Israel and “Welfare and Immigration in Israel,” where we discussed difficulties new residents may encounter and how the country deals with them. We will continue exploring this theme this month with a discussion on the relationship between Israel and the Jewish communities abroad (at our Nov. 28 program) and have a fun evening of Israeli painting planned on Nov. 14, which we hope you’ll attend.
The First Thanksgiving
We are also coming up on Thanksgiving, which will be the first time we’ve celebrated it! We’re looking forward to all the delicious food you keep telling us about and to be a part of your holiday traditions. Thanksgiving is also a time of giving thanks for what we have and time to reflect on our lives, our choices, and how these affect those around us. In or eyes, Thanksgiving can be seen as an American-Jewish dialogue with Yom Kippur and that makes it unique for us as well. So we will be giving thanks here for the many things we have to appreciate back home.
To Give is to Receive
For our article this month, we wanted to highlight one of the wonderful organizations working in Israel—“Latet,” which literally translates to “to give.” Latet is an Israel-wide organization focused on improving the lives of people from all classes through education, involvement and fiscal care. They are one of the organizations we feel proud to have be a part of our lives and country. Both of us spent time volunteering there and think highly of their work. Among the many things we’ve had a chance to take part in, we helped collect food before the high holy days for those in need and distribute it, and we helped spread the word on “the alternative poverty line”— a collaboration of several welfare organizations seeking to better define the poverty issue in Israel and find a compatible solution to it.
Gili, in particular, has a history of working with Latet— she served as a youth guide for its youth leadership program called “Latet Youth” for a year, during which she helped shape a group of teenagers in our hometown, Hod-Hasharon, into young leaders who are involved in the community. It was a very meaningful and empowering experience and the privilege of working and promoting others was another step on her journey that lead her to study psychology and do shlichut here in Ohio.
Committing to Those in Need
Israel is struggling with many complicated issues, one of which is the state of legal and illegal immigrants and how we help them reacquire a sense of security, purpose and hold on their lives. Immigrants are not the only group with such hardships. However, the amazing thing is that there is a sense of shared fate, of commitment to one another, which crosses boundaries such as religion, culture and distance. For example, during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, many civilians fled Israel’s northern border due to an increasing barrage of rockets from Hezbollah and their allies. Many families opened their homes and hearts to these people and hosted them for the duration of the conflict.
Uri’s family was one such family. They hosted an Ethiopian family who recently made Aliyah to the Haifa area; they stayed with Uri’s family for around ten days. It was an incredible experience— hosting people from such a different culture in such rough times— and it really opens your eyes to the needs of those around you.
Amazing projects such as IsraAID, which you learned about last year, are the culmination of such awareness in the Israeli society for the needs of those around us. The title of our second lecture was “Aniye Ircha Kodmim – The poor of your city first,” and while we must look to solve the issues of those in our immediate vicinity, it does not mean we are blind to the needs of many further away. In collaboration with BBYO, the Schultz Campus teen leadership program, and Haven of Rest, we are proud to take part in an amazing new teen program where we get to meet with those less fortunate and do a small act of kindness for them. We have high hopes for these up-and-coming members of our community and we believe in their spirit and the spirit of Latet.
May we have an amazing year, and give no less than we receive.