1. Pinner Shul
  2. Rabbi Kurzer's Thoughts
  3. Rabbinic Solidarity Mission – Day 1
22nd January 2024

This was always going to be an intense trip – I had no doubt of that before I came.  I have cried today, I have laughed, I have hurt, I have felt uplifted, I have hugged, I have thought, I have learnt and I have (only just) begun to process.  I am hugely appreciative of Mizrachi who have been amazing throughout.  I feel like we have packed a week’s worth of hours and a lifetime’s worth of experiences into just one day and there is no way I can do justice to sharing everything here.

And tomorrow we are going South which is where it all actually happened.

I could spend hours talking about each thing that we did and each person that we saw.  We heard from Rav Doron Perez, CEO of World Mizrachi, whose son, Daniel, is held in Hamas captivity, to Dani Miran whose son, Omri, is also among the hostages.  We saw the “Free Them Now” headquarters where volunteers are running the office and Kikar HaChatufim (Hostage Square) with the famous empty table.  We visited Ichilov, Israel’s 2nd largest hospital, where many of the soldiers are brought straight from the front and Machane Shura, the Rabbanut’s army where, among many other things, every soldier who falls in battle is prepared for kevurat Yisrael, a dignified Jewish burial (we left just hours before the devastating news of over 20 soldiers killed in action).  Each one is a long story and it is clear we only began to scratch the surface – there are thousands of stories to tell from 7th October and the months that have followed.

I hope to begin to unpack and retell each story over the next few weeks and months but there are two root themes that permeated our day and stuck me again and again.  First is the incredible spirit of our nation.  There is an amazing resilience that exudes a quiet aura of invincibility to every person and every place in the country at the moment.  Am Yisrael Chai is not a prayer or a slogan – it is a confident statement of fact, whether spoken or not.  Through the heroism of Simchat Torah itself or the power of the continuing efforts to bounce back from that dark day even stronger, despite the difficulties that will undoubtedly come our way, there shines an irrepressible conviction that Israel will only get better.

The second was the clear, deep belief of everyone we met in the family that is Am Yisrael and desperate desire to make the current unity last.  From the most religious to secular, right-wing or left-wing, old and young, men and women, whichever kippah they did or did not wear, all stripes and colours want to support and help each other.  Everyone was buoyed to see rabbis visiting from abroad.  Everyone wants to give where they can.  Everyone showed their love for every member of our nation.

It was a heavy day, as it should be, but I went to sleep on a high.  May we all be uplifted by this spirit and share and give and love as much as possible.

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