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We should be proud!

Dear Friends,

It is not an easy time in Israel. Days of fear and anxiety, have been replaced by hours of sadness and grief. The chain of events of the past weeks have been gloomy and most difficult; and at times, it has felt like a dark and hopeless state. Seeing innocent people dying is heartbreaking. It is during these times that we need to find positive aspects that could allow us to see some light within the darkness.



As Jews, we should be proud that the state of Israel decided to undertake  a battle to protect the lives of 75% of its population. The citizens in all of the major Israeli cities live under constant attacks from thousands of rockets, fired by a terrorist Jihadist organization that is fanatically committed to the destruction of the Jewish people and the state of Israel. There is no war more justified that this one. 



We are proud that the state of Israel acts with enormous compassion. We know that no country in the world would go through so much effort to avoid killing the innocent. The IDF risk the lives of our young soldiers in ground forces in difficult battle in urban areas, where terrorists hide and shoot from schools, hospitals, and homes - all in an effort to minimize the casualties among the innocent. They announce impending operations   to enable residents to flee despite the fact that it allows their heinous enemy to find alternate positions for attack.


We feel proud when we see the humane way the Israeli government treats the people of Gaza. Israel continues to supply all their necessities through the border crossing, while Israeli officers are attacked by rockets and also placed in danger of terrorists making their way through underground tunnels on killing missions. 



We feel proud of the way Israelis treat the Palestinians who were injured as a result of the war. This includes those who were injured due to their own decision to stay in the war zone, or to become human shields for terrorists. The Israelis opened a field hospital at the border crossing to heal the wounded, regardless of their affiliation and involvement; they do all this under fire of rockets raining from Gaza.



It warms our hearts when we see the strong unity of our people. One expression of it was when two young soldiers from the US,  Sean Carmeli and Max Steinberg z"l, who had volunteered to serve in the IDF, lost their lives. They were in Israel without family. Over thirty thousand(!) people came to each of their funerals to give them that last honour, and to be there as one big family.



tunnel.jpgWe feel grateful that, thank G-d, the army discovered a net of underground tunnels before the terrorists could utilize them for the evil purpose for which they were constructed.  The soldiers are doing their best, under fire to destroy these terror tunnels. 





In the video clip below, you can watch the spirit, faith, warmth and friendship of the Israeli soldiers, on their break from fighting on behalf of our people, right outside of Gaza.

The translation of the chorus of the song:

Whoever has faith is not afraid, 
And we have the King of the world, 
Who guards us from all.

This nation is a family,  
One plus one is the secret of success,
The nation of Israel will not give up, 
We shall forever remain on the map. 





We will continue to pray and do mitzvot for the safety of the heroes of the IDF, we will include in our prayers the two children from our community who are currently serving in the IDF - Yosef ben Rivka and Steven ben Baruch. May the al-mighty G-d send success in their mission to eliminate the terrorist threat from Israel; may it be without any casualties to them or to any other innocent people; may it bring the days of ultimate peace closer when, “they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore".



It's not Lag B'omer!

My brother Yitzchak, who many of you met when he was our High Holiday Chazan, is living with his wife and daughter in Ashdod. My sister Chana and her husband and four children live in Ashkelon. 

These two cities, have become border cities and they have been hit in the last week more than any other Israeli city with dozens of rockets almost every day.

My brother Yitzchak shared with us that when the rockets started falling and his daughter Chanale saw flames from the window of her house, she asked her father "are people celebrating Lag B'omer?" (a holiday that is celebrated with bonfire)...

By now Chanale knows that it is not a celebration. She understands that there are evil people who live a few kilometers from her home and their wish is to destroy Jewish lives. A very difficult reality to live with.

In days when our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Israel and the soldiers of the IDF let us remember that their strength comes from our unity, we should increase in the kind of thoughts, talks and actions which will add to our care for one another and our togetherness as a people. 

It is now the appropriate time to commit to a mitzvah in the honour of the people of Israel. Let us not underestimate the power of good! With a single good deed on our part, here and now, we each can contribute toward the victory and safety of OUR brothers and sisters, who are counting on our support!

Meeting at JFK

Yesterday afternoon, I was getting a drink at a shop in JFK airport, when a young lady who just completed her purchase turned to me with an unusual request. She took a necklace out of her purse, put it around her neck and asked me if I can close it for her. I looked closely and saw that her arm was broken and she needed assistance. 

"I saw you and I remembered about my Star of David necklace" she explained her sudden decision to wear this piece of jewelry. 

When she asked me where my traveling plans take me, we realized that we were both traveling to Calgary. A while later, we found out that it wasn't only that we were on the same airplane, she was actually just across the aisle from me, in the same row.  

It was my flight back after spending a very inspiring few days in New York in conjunction with the Rebbe's Yahrtzeit. I was supposed to fly home on Wednesday, but my flight was canceled and I was put on a flight on the following day. 

To keep myself occupied, I reached for a magazine in my carry-on bag. When the girl saw the Rebbe's picture in the front of that publication she said "my grandfather loved this guy, he used to stand for hours in the line to get his blessing, I was always wondering what was so special about him..." I gave her the magazine, which she read avidly. 

In our conversation, I learned that she was heading to Kelowna, to visit her Jewish boy friend. "Does he know Rabbi Hecht?" I asked. "A Rabbi in Kelowna?!" She responded with amazement. I gave her the Hechts contact information and she promised she'll get in touch and try to connect her friend as well, and perhaps have Shabbat together too. 

I don't know why my flight was delayed on Wednesday, I'm definitely not trying to imply that I know why the girl broke her arm, but I believe that our odd meeting at the terminal shop may have strengthened a connection of Jewish souls in Kelowna to their heritage and for this I'm grateful. 

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