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Welcome. We Surround You With Love.

12/20/2023 11:29:12 AM


Rabbi Steven Lindemann

The title translates the Hebrew words written on a tent at the entrance to a respite center for IDF soldiers. They come here when their unit is pulled out of Gaza for a day or two of rest. Returning home is not possible, because they can be called back at any moment. The center is a tent city. There is a kitchen that cooks on wood-burning and charcoal grills. A mess tent also serves as a prayer space and a coffee center. Dorms have cots with real sheets and blankets. And there are showers with hot water and towels. Soldiers can get clean underwear and socks. There is a laundry.   

All of this is built and staffed by volunteers. The material, food, the land, and the electricity are all donated. The soldiers are “Surrounded with Love.” All of Israel surrounds them with love. No politics! Of course, there is plenty of politics in Israel—right-left, religious-secular, two states, one state, even three states (don’t ask). But when it comes to Israel’s soldiers, there is no politics. When it comes to the soldiers, all Israel is one family. Israel surrounds them with love. 

The Rabbinical Assembly Mission that I have been a part of for the last few days has come here to say “We surround Israel with love.” The congregations and organizations of the Conservative Movement are here to say we support the people of Israel. We stand with Israel. We bring letters and donations for soldiers, we bring warm clothes for the winter nights, we bring wool hats and sleeping bags, and stuffed toys for kids. And we bring money to support our Masorti congregations and their rabbis, who are taking refugees from destroyed Kibbutzim and displaced communities into their homes and lives. They have created space for public school classes and daycare programs. They are supporting families in which one of the parents have been called into military service. The rabbis do counseling and way too many Shiva minyanim and even guard duty. And we come here as your representatives to surround them with love. We come here to surround Israel with love. As for Torah? We can discuss that on Shabbat along with more stories from the Mission.  

Sun, July 14 2024 8 Tammuz 5784