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Israel Solidarity Mission Part II -Southern Israel- Tears, Love, Determination

04/03/2024 10:36:57 AM


Rabbi Rudin

In this week’s Torah portion, Shemini, we relive the harrowing deaths of the projected future leaders of the nation, Aaron’s two sons, Nadav and Avihu.

Wise, kind, virtuous and gifted, the two young men approach the Holy of Holies without permission on the day when the Tabernacle is inaugurated.  As divine flame emerges from the Holy of Holies to consume the offering outside on the altar, signaling the arrival of G-d’s presence, Nadav and Avihu are caught in the blast and burned down where they stand.

Sometimes youth is impetuous, bold, daring, pushing and challenging limits.  And sometimes tragedy strikes and the beauty of the promise and hope of youth is destroyed, destroying a part of us as well and darkening our world forever.

In the overnight of Simchat Torah on October 7th, four thousand young Israelis gathered to dance through the night for peace, renewal and hope in the Negev desert.  And that same night, the murderers of Hamas flooded across the Gaza border with Jewish and Israeli bloodshed and rapine as their one goal.  Horror upon horror, suffering upon suffering as over three hundred innocent young people were killed and many more wounded. 

In keeping with the Nova Rave Concert tradition, the venue was a secret revealed only a day before to the four thousand participants.  The terrorists in their cars and paragliders didn’t expect to see such a large group- they had their eyes set on Tel Aviv.  But when the opportunity for monstrosity and inhumanity presented itself, the terrorists’ plans changed and they descended on Nova in their blind hate and pure evil.

Nor did that hate and evil end that night. The international response did include some sympathy and solidarity.  Blue and white appeared briefly on some world landmarks.  But horribly and incredibly, supporters of Hamas, deniers and justifiers and even celebrants of the slaughter rose up to respond to cries of anguished parents and a people in agony with shouts of laughter and roars of approval.  Worse still, the focus of these celebrations was all too frequently on our college campuses before the incredulous eyes of our own children.

Like a rolling cloud of poison gas, the Hamas murder-gangs rolled into the quiet cities of Sederot and Ofakim, Kibbutzim like Be’eri, Nir Oz, Cholit and Erez, spreading atrocities against girls and women, families, children, seniors and even animals.  Some places mounted defenses and drove the killers away in search of other victims.  And horribly, the terrorists dragged hundreds of innocents, men, women, children, some alive, some dead, back with them to the tunnels they had prepared beneath civilian infrastructure- after parading their grisly trophies to cheering and jeering crowds.

When we visited the Nova Concert Venue before Purim, I tried to steel myself in preparation for what I thought was going to be a walk through a vast crime scene.

Instead, I saw a field of angels. 

Parents, friends, relatives turned their grief into memorials, tributes, signs of love and affirmation where the lives of the lost were not allowed to be dragged down by the horror but were elevated by love.  The angel of death shall not have the last word, the memorials and signs and trees and flowers and sculptures all proclaim.  The angels whose young, beautiful faces we see on the banners and memorials whisper: We shall yet dance again.


Memorial to Noa Englander (23) HY”D
“Live today as if there’s no tomorrow and rejoice-
simply rejoice
In memory of our Nogash”

Memorial to Amit Magnezi (22) HY”D “Love freely- world class hero with
an angel’s smile.  Use your smile to change the world- don’t let the world change your smile.”

Sadness and loss and crippling grief were all there.  But so was hope, faith, determination; that such things shall never again stain the holy ground of the Land of Israel.  The grimmest day for us since the Holocaust.  But beyond even the vast darkness of horror and grief, the declaration of faith and defiance and hearts open to peace despite it all: Am Yisrael Chai.

Eidan Dor HY”D was 25.  “Pure child,  
You were the light- you were our everything.
Eidan, please come back to us.”

A place of atrocities has become a place of memory

Waze told us where we were:12 miles from  Beit Hanun in Gaza

A statement of faith as a memorial: Time heals
give time time


Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784