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  2006-07-30 Kiryat Bialik

 Rabbi Mauricio Balter



Rabbi in Kiryat Bialik
describes a week at war, July 30, 2006


By Rabbi Mauricio Balter

KIRYAT BIALIK, Israel, Saturday evening, July 29—I write to you after some days of disconnection; war changes life and destroys the routine one is used to.

Last week was a very intense one. On Monday I was in Guivat Javivah at a meeting of the rabbis of the communities where the Ramah Noam summer camp takes place. On Tuesday I received a delegation from the Rabbinical Assembly and during the afternoon  I met the U.S.A Congressman Robert Wexler.. On Wednesday I met people with different problems and on Thursday I was in Jerusalem attending different meetings.

These were very different days lived with intensity. Last week some missiles fell in the area. One of them fell 100 meters from my office and another one fell 500 meters from my house. The feeling of impotence was enormous. Then we got the news of the death of nine soldiers; this was a terrible blow to our spirit. Nine of our children fell! What a pain! It was even harder than the missiles near home. 

Thanks G’d we have support. The Rabbinical Assembly’s mission gave me a push to go on that helped me a lot in these difficult moments. To know we have colleagues and friends that think about us in these moments comfort me and to receive e-mails from colleagues and friends help a lot. Telephone calls make me feel I’m not alone. I cannot describe the sensations and proud I felt for the action of the group that did the Maase, the act of coming to the North in war time to say: “Here we are, you are not alone.”   I have a feeling of relief and solidarity.

The colleagues that visited us stayed during four sirens, I was surprised for their strength to undergo this moment. To pray together Minhah and Tehilim in a shelter during such a difficult moment for our country was a very comforting spiritual experience that made a great impression on the members of the community and the city. Jazakim Ubrujim tiu, tizku bemitzvot rabot!!!

I want to tell you that people are feeling more and more the tiredness of days running to the shelter and closed places. The calls from families in crisis that need help are more and more frequent. It’s understandable: it’s been 19 days sleeping dressed to be able to run to the shelters; it’s been 19 days that the tension of waiting for the siren doesn’t allow anyone to concentrate on other aspects of life. There is no one moment of quiet and disconnection, not even when eating, bathing or sleeping. Everything is marked by the worry of When I would have to go to the shelter?  And when you get out home you feel the pressure of being inside the car and the moment you hear the siren you have a minute to stop, park the car and look for a building where to get in but if you are in an open area you have to lie down on earth. Driving, then becomes a nightmare. The day I traveled to Jerusalem I went with my mother and my wife, Vila; the siren sounded in an open place, I stopped the car, got out of it and my mum, out of nervousness, couldn’t unfasten her seatbelt; the situation became very tense. Thanks G’d nothing happened, but one has to live the moment.

On the other hand, I have to comment on the other face of the coin, the Israel that doesn’t stop surprising me and that I so much love. Three points to mention:

1- In this area we have had about 150 sirens up to now. Most of them I was with my neighbors. I’ve always had a very friendly relationship, but the support we give each other now and the worry we feel to know everyone is okay are overwhelming.

2- Today we had our second Bar Mitzvah in the shelter. Last week as well as this one, I proposed to the Bar Mitzvahs’ families to support them with the community on the decision they wanted to take, either to postpone the ceremony, in which case the community would help them with the lessons they would need, or to do it on the predetermined date also with the support of the community. In both cases they decided to held the Bar Mitzvah knowing that many relatives and friends would not be able to come. Today I told to the Bar Mitzvah that there are things in our people that nobody will ever be able to break, specially its spirit. 

3- Today TV news showed youngsters who joined the army last Thursday. They were standing at the recruiting office when the Chief General, Dan Halutz, arrived to greet them. Spontaneously, these youngsters started to sing and cheer  him. What a spirit!

These three issues together with the mission this last week give me strength to stay here without any doubts.

Baruj Hashem shlomenu tov , and we will go on.
Here we are, this is our land and we have the right to live on it in peace and normally.
With love,

Ose Shalom bimromaiv hu iaase shalom aleinu ve al kol Israel ve al kol ioshbei Tevel, veimru amen.

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Editor's Note: Rabbi Balter's congregation in Kiryat Bialik has a sister relationship with Ner Tamid Synagogue of Poway, Calif.