A good way to start the week
July 8, 2002
Over the past two days I’ve been exposed to a number of interesting encounters. I’d like to briefly relate them to you.
Yesterday morning I met Chavi and Daniel Eisenberg at Ma’arat HaMachpela, following morning prayers. They had called me a few days before, asking to see some of Hebron.
Chavi is the United States national director Tehilla. Tehilla is an international organization, defined on its web site [www.tehilla.com] as a “voluntary movement for religious aliya. A non-political movement, established in 1982 to assist religious olim in preparing for and adjusting to their aliya, Tehilla began providing concrete, practical assistance in the areas of employment, education and communities. Tehilla has offices in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, New York, London, Paris, Johannesburg, and Kiev.”
When I asked Chavi how many people she has working with her, she basically answered, ‘me, myself and I.’ The reason for lack of manpower is, as almost always, financial. They have very little money. Despite this, working practically alone, Chavi and Tehilla are major partners in helping Jews come live in Eretz Yisrael. This week a plane full of almost four hundred people, that’s over 150 families, will land at Ben Gurion Airport, all coming to live in Israel. The plane is sponsored by a new organization called Nefesh b’Nefesh [www.nefeshbnefesh.org], in English, ‘Jewish souls united.’ Their goal: “To revitalize North American Aliyah and to expand it for generations to come by removing the financial, professional, social and logistical obstacles that are preventing many “would-be” Olim from fulfilling their dream. In the process, we hope to send an unmistakable signal of North American-Israeli Jewish solidarity and joint determination to strengthen the State of Israel.”
The organization is led by executive director Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, a young, dynamic, charismatic and very dedicated Jew, who abandoned a very promising career as an influential pulpit Rabbi to take the reins of this holy project.
Together, Tehilla and Nefesh b’Nefesh are fulfilling the epitome of the Zionist ideal: getting Jews to Eretz Yisrael.
This past Shabbat I had a very interesting visitor. I met him during Shabbat prayers at Ma’arat HaMachpela. A tall man, wearing shorts, Daniel was called up to the Torah to recite the blessings over the holy scroll. He later told me this was the first time he’d ever been called up to recite the Torah blessings.
I invited Daniel home with me for Shabbat lunch, and while walking to Beit Hadassah he told me some of his story.
Daniel was a flight attendant for United airlines, regularly flying to California, either to LA or San Francisco. On September 5 Daniel fell down some stairs, wrenching his back. Realizing that he couldn’t stand for hours on a plane, a few days later he called in sick. A couple of days later, on September 11, one of those planes, on its way to California, was turned around by al Qaeda terrorists in an attempt to crash it into the White House. That was the plane that went down in a field over Pennsylvania, intentionally brought down by heroic passengers.
Daniel, hearing about the crash, realized that he very well could have been one of its victims. Friends of his from United perished on the flight. On September 15 Daniel was in Israel, having left his job, deciding to adopt a religiously observant lifestyle, in thanks for his still being alive. Presently he’s studying at a Yeshiva in Jerusalem, plans to sell off whatever he still owns in the US, becoming, as soon as possible, an Oleh Hadash, a new immigrant.
And here is one for the road: A few months ago, while visiting in Fairlawn, New Jersey, I was approached by Mrs. Zhenia Fleisher, who told me about her son Yishai’s dream, to get married in Hebron, this summer.
Yishai is, by the way, one of the leaders of Kumah [www.kumah.org], which means Arise, an organization dedicated to encouraging and facilitating mass Aliya to Israel.
Yesterday, Yishai, and his Kallah, bride-to-be, Melissa, visited Hebron, in preparation for their wedding, which, with G-d’s help will take place in a couple of weeks, soon after Tisha b’Av. The couple is in law school, with one year until graduation. They plan on making their home, here in Israel, upon completion of their studies. Their Rabbi, Rabbi Benjamin Yuden, from Fairlawn, is making a special trip to Israel to marry them, here in Hebron, at Ma’arat HaMachpela.
A dream come true.
With blessings from Hebron,
This is David Wilder