Earl Shugerman will bring every week a serie of stories about Anglo-Saxon immigrants to Israel. This project is aimed to promote a more realistic view of life in Israel. The following story was written at a summer camp during Tisha B’Av (Jewish Fast).
A Nation of Remembrance
by Earl Shugerman
Understanding the culture of Israel is a great challenge to many new olim. Israel is a nation where the Jewish faith and history are very much a part of daily life.
Yesterday was Tisha B’Av, a day of evel or mourning in Israel. This day mourns the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem and all suffering endured by the people of the Book. It is a day of fasting and other acts of observance. Businesses and schools may be open depending on the type of service or affiliation.
Forty kids aged six to ten enjoyed various summer activities including volleyball, soccer, and dodge ball. The director, Jaffa, also gave a one hour presentation describing the building and destruction of both Temples. We also discussed the holocaust and Israel’s memorial day. More than twenty thousand Israelis have died in open conflicts or by acts of terrorism since 1948. The Holocaust is almost always in the minds and hearts of Israeli Jews. We must never forget the murders of millions whose only sin was being born Jewish or having Jewish ancestors.
We had a short question and answer period after the presentation. I was surprised that none of the kids asked why we talked about these topics during summer fun time or complained. I asked my two English speaking “friends” in the group Naomi (8) and Shachar (7) to explain everyone’s cooperation. Naomi spent two years in Boston and answered in wonderful English; “most Israeli kids understand that remembering the past protects us in the present and future”. Shachar an American olah agreed and showed great pride in her new Israeli citizenship.
Today we had a group of visitors from Boston come to visit the Synagogue. The group was composed of roughly one hundred adults and kids from a sister congregation. We enjoyed dinner together and then went on a tour of the Temple’s bomb shelter. The shelter is an area of three hundred square feet that also includes a separate bathroom, shower, and first aid room. During the second war with Lebanon the twenty kids from our day school and fifty local children spent their days alternating between the shelter and our school facility. Each time a siren wailed the kids and staff ran down the three floors from the classroom to safety. Our previous past congregation president Jesse led the tour and explained to us that many Haifa residents left the city during the fighting but many chose to stay.
Jesse who is a physician and American born mentioned to me that my friend Naomi and her family chose to stay.
About the author: Earl Shugerman is a retired American Government public relations specialist, who specialised in promoting programs for people with disabilities. Earl Shugerman is currently spokesperson in Haifa for The Jewish Agency and a writer specializing in interfaith relations. He has worked together with the Catholic and Southern Baptist Movements, the Reformed Jewish Movement and Muslim groups in interfaith activities.