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  2006-08-03 Kiryat Bialik-Jerusalem

 Rabbi Mauricio Balter



Kiryat Bialik congregation finds relief from 
the missiles by taking some R&R in Jerusalem, August 3, 2006



By Rabbi Mauricio Balter

KIRYAT BIALIK, Israel, Wednesday, August 2 —After the illusion of two days of apparent silence, we are living today one of the hardest days of attacks to the North of Israel. Up to this moment more than 200 missiles have fallen. There are tremendous fires in forests, the destruction of buildings, 120 people hurt and one dead. Again, we run when we heard the sirens. We knew the reasons why this war goes on, but it is very difficult to maintain.

Nevertheless, among these difficult days we lived a different one, a very different one. The story began some days ago when my friend and colleague, Rabbi Barry Schlesinger (Rabbi of the Moreshet Abraham Community in Jerusalem ) during one of his frequent calls to find out about us, asked me what he could do to help people from Kiryat Bialik.

Immediately, he suggested to me the possibility of organizing a bus for people to be able to spend a day of recreation and rest in Jerusalem . I agreed, and he would talk to his community, and then he would call me back. This happened on Thursday. On Sunday, he called me and told me that everything was going on successfully and another colleague, Rabbi Paul
Sherll-Fox (Rabbi of Iar Ramot Community) joined the idea and got a first donation. We started to plan the trip and list the people. On the same day, another colleague, Rabbi Shlomo Toker (Vice Dean of Beit Midrash le rabanim Shejter) called me and, when I told him about this idea he immediately joined to help Rabbi Barry in the organization and collecting funds. By that afternoon everything looked wonderful; we had gathered the money, we had prepared the program when the difficulty appeared:

There were people for two buses! As people got to know about the possibility of traveling, there was a flood of petitions. I felt so sad to see the great need before my eyes that I called again to Rabbi Barry. His answer was immediate; we filled two buses with people!

Although there were still people in a waiting list, the feeling of relief was great.

And thus, 110 people got to Jerusalem with the help three rabbis, colleagues, and friends (neshamot tobot) who decided to DO. With the help of David Breakston, we got through the Jewish Agency pizza for everybody that evening. The Kiryat Bialik Municipality helped with the guards, and many other individuals and groups also helped us.


The program was great: a trip through the old city, the Western Wall, lunch at a first class restaurant, swimming pool and then games at  Jerusalem’s promenade organized by a company that specializes in children’s events. Everything went together with a smile and a caress. What an incredible sensation,  from the running to the shelters to moments of happiness!

We had the opportunity to meet Sarah Lynn (Rabbi Sherll Fox’s wife) and her children and her supporting smile and we also met a group of young volunteers led by Elisha Shlesinger (Rabbi Barry’s son) who made us feel their contagious serenity and disposition.

At the end of the day, we gathered to say good bye on the grass, we listened to the participants’ words, and their gratitude was infinite. We saw the brightness on the children’s eyes thanks to a different day. And last, looking to the old city of Jerusalem , Rabbi Paul told us a midrash, full of hope and Rabbi Barry led us in the reading of tehilim. At the end we all sang Hatikvah. Just to think about this moment, my eyes become full of tears. All of us burst in tears during this strong spiritual moment/

"Liot am jofshi beretz artzenu, eretz zion ierushalaim. To be a free people in our land, the land of Zion Jerusalem

How strong these words sound in moments of war, at Tisha be Av’s eve opposite the Old City of Jerusalem! Because this is what this war is about: again, somebody is trying to take from us the right to live and exist here in freedom.

The return was long, with many traffic jams and news about sirens in the North, but nobody said a word. What we lived during the day was unique and no event could ruin that kind of specialnes.

I want to add some personal words: Yesterday I should have gone on holidays which were planned and agreed since months ago, but with the full consent of my wife Vila I canceled them. I’ve been undergoing a virus and fever for three days now. Nevertheless, this day in Jerusalem was one of the strongest experiences I lived in the last years, and I thank G’d that I was able to be part of it.

I can think about an infinite number of passages (psukim) and sources to describe, but I’m only going to say how good it is to be part of a movement like the Masorti Movement, how good it is to have colleagues like Rabbis Barry, Paul and Shlomo, three real good souls - NESHAMOT TOVOT- how good it is to be part of the people of Israel, and what a blessing it is to live the miracle that means the Israel State

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

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.