Wednesday, November 21, 2012
I wrote this article seventeen years ago. I'm sorry that it still has meaning today.
Dear G.U.C.I. Staff:
The day before yesterday we delivered our son, Jeremy, to the airport as he began
a great adventure, five months of study and travel at Tel Aviv University. It
was with mixed feelings that I said my good-byes to him. As any parent would,
I shared his excitement, yet I couldn't deny my feelings of sadness at seeing
him leave for so long a time at so great a distance.
That night, I heard the news of the suicide bombing at an intersection north of
Netanya. Nineteen Israeli soldiers murdered and many others injured. Jeremy,
along with several other camp kids landed in Israel amidst another tragedy, at
a time that I'm sure will temper their excitement and feelings of freedom and
adventure with the harsh realities of life and death in our Jewish State. Many
years ago, I traveled to Israel to study at the Hebrew Union College. It was
actually my second year of study there. I was at the Machon Hayim Greemberg
for the '69-'70 school year and was returning to begin my rabbinic studies in
September, 1972. A few weeks after we arrived, my class took a trip south into
the Negev. It was on that bus, with forty or so other rabbinic students that
we heard the news on the radio of the massacre of eleven Israeli Olympic
athletes in Munich, Germany.
My group of students, which had only just formed, was an energetic, boisterous,
good humored bunch. But in an instant we were silenced and numbed by the
news. It was like a scene from the Twilight Zone; Rod Serling would have taken
note of it. We asked the driver to stop the bus. Our tour guide translated
the Hebrew language news for us so that we were sure to understand what had
happened. It was a very silent time. Slowly we each got off the bus and stood
on the side of the road in the middle of that hot and stony desert thinking
about and feeling the "Alone-ness" of Israel. As I think of that moment twenty-
two years later, I remember the quiet of it all. As I recall, no one cried.
No one spoke, either. I stood together with my classmates, and after a few
minutes someone began reciting the Kaddish. We all mumbled the ancient words.
It was all that we could do. It was not enough, but it was something.
After a little while, we boarded the bus and continued on our way. It's what
we all do when tragedy strikes; we continue, we go on. It is what Israel has
done time and time again; it survives, it learns, it grows stronger, as do we
all. These experiences change us. They certainly never leave us
Jeremy, Jeff Kuhr, Stacey Walter, Kareen Batelman, Stephanie Katz, Jessica
Stein, Julie Levinsky, join Josh Steinharter, Phil Jacobson, and others of our
camp family and our extended Jewish family in a trip back to the future; to rub
elbows with our ancient past, our tumultuous present, and to become the future
of our people. They have gone to study in Israel. I do believe that many of
their lessons will be learned outside of classroom.