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Israel: Still Flowing with Milk and Honey (CJN, July 2010)


 By Avrum Rosensweig

I just flew 6000 miles to Israel in a metal cylinder. I peered out the window and one moment I saw the snow dotted ranges of Labrador and the next, the mountains of Turkey.

How will we arrive in Israel in 2025?

I was in another world, one I hadn’t visited since 1994. Agoraphobia stood in my way but I am now conquering this terrible condition. While in the Holy Land, I discovered it does still flow with milk and honey, albeit sometimes curdled, and has a glorious flow of contradictions and seemingly irrational spiritual, political and day-to-day configurations.

Israel, the Middle East, is hospitable. Biblical Avraham and Sarah showed that. While I suffered from heatstroke in my 3-star hotel without room service, the man at the front desk brought me tea, as my Mother would. This was not their policy.

Israel is a land of trust. Egged – the bus company, does not charge for a bus ride after Shabbos from the Kotel requesting instead the passenger pay during the week. During the week of Parshat Chaya Sarah, the Torah portion dealing with the life and death of Sarah, the company rearranges their schedule so as to bring people to the Morat ha’machpala, the place she was buried.

Israel is a land of distrust. The Israeli houses are often triple bolted to defend against Arab threats. The reinforced security often prevents fireman from gaining access.

Israel is a land of brotherhood. I took a taxi with my colleague, Kirill Zaretzky, a fine travel companion, and my Israeli sister, Etti, an energetic Zionist. The driver unabashedly made calls to two doctors, his wife and a social worker, to determine the next phase of treatment for his son – a six year old boy who is one of seventy worldwide suffering from a medical condition having to do with a lack of sugar to the brain. He spoke on speaker phone. He brought us into his life; similarly to the many strangers I met who invited me to their d’ira (apartment) for coffee.

Israel is a country that cries out for co-existence with Palestinians and surrounding Arab nations. While on a walking tour of Katimon my sister read me a memorial of a battle in 1948 near a monastery. The plaque referred to ‘the enemy’ rather than the Arabs. This riled her greatly.

In this tiny little strip of land, entrepreneurs are everywhere. Profit is a must. Advertisements are plastered to bags, walls, buses, cars, sweaters, coats and anything else that can be worn, seen or touched.

It will cost you one shekel to use the bathrooms on a Tel Aviv beach.

Israel is a land of third-world poverty. The makeshift halls used for Ethiopian, Sudanese and other refugees, stink like urine. There is one counselor for over 150 children. Babies never leave their cribs. Refugees walk into Israel and are picked up by boarder guards and delivered to a park in Tel Aviv. That’s it. Nobody is taking responsibility for them. It is truly is a shanda (Yiddish shame).

The parents who accepted Ve’ahavta 3000 Kinder Kits (pack packs with educational material) did so with great humility. They are poor and the Torah says, “ani k’mait” – that a poor person is like a dead person. While these people displayed a sense of Mediterranean zest, they live in a much different country than those paying that 1 shekel.
I was in Israel for one week. While there, and along the way, I saw dozens of worlds aligned, contradictions abound, deep character creases carved into the faces of our people and a country that exudes holiness and quite frankly everything else.

Am Yisrael Chai. The Nation of Israel Lives.

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One comment on “Israel: Still Flowing with Milk and Honey (CJN, July 2010)

  1. alan krolik
    July 29, 2010

    Avram, when you look for some, you personnel find it. It looks like you you want to see
    one side of Israel and you found it. Your eyes were blind on orther side. You did not notice the beauful part of state like Israel has more types of birds then andy state. To
    bad your were blind.

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