Trying to summarise in a few paragraphs what our group has seen and experienced over the past three and a half days is almost impossible.
When we first spoke about taking a group from the shul on a solidarity trip, many thought we were crazy. “Why would you take people into a war zone?”, some said. “What can you achieve?” others mooted.
But we were determined to show our support and love for Israel and for the eight of us, we were able to show true achdut (unity) and join our brothers and sisters in our homeland, Eretz Yisrael.
We have heard first-hand heartbreaking stories of families devastated, destroyed, and displaced. Families without homes, families whose homes are no longer a sanctuary and families who are too traumatised to return home. Mothers of young boys shaken to their core by their loss, young people grappling with the loss of their friends, too young to be experiencing such loss. The sense of trauma is palpable. But what struck us most was an unbelievable sense of hope, of a united nation and coming back stronger.
Everyone has a story to tell of where they were on 7 October 2023 (ourselves included). How the atrocities impacted them. The near misses and coincidences, so many miracles and stories of survival.
We heard the miraculous story of a soldier with a serious shrapnel wound in his heart. Having already had open heart surgery, the doctors were reluctant to operate again on him, so they left the shrapnel and the scar tissue formed around it. The soldier is recovering well and thank G-d healthy. This is symbolic of a nation, with the scars of war and conflict but stronger than ever.
Over the next few weeks we will be sharing our stories, our first-hand witness accounts, as well as more activities and events and ways to show our communal love and support for Israel. We were proud to represent BES and the US as pioneers of communal solidarity.
The BES Group included:
- Rabbi Chapper
- Eddie Hammerman
- Rachel Fink
- Ophir Lethbridge
- Lara Lipsey
- Gidi Matlin
- Judy Minsky
- Godfrey Minsky