No matter where we have been during these hot summer weeks, our hearts and minds have been turned Eastward, toward Jerusalem. To say that the news out of Israel has been bleak these past few weeks is an understatement. My friends in Israel all have children in the IDF. Across the world, I feel their fear, their hearts in their mouths. I worry for them and for their children's safety. I think of all the mothers and fathers in Israel, called upon to once again make sacrifices that no parent should ever have to make. I grieve with Israel at the loss of her children, and with the innocents in Gaza, who have also been the victim to Hamas' terrorism.
Every time I open the newspaper, or watch the news, or surf the net, there is more to worry about. Yes, the news is grim indeed.
But buried as a footnote in last week's news I read this: on July 22nd, 228 new Olim arrived in Israel from North America, including 100 children. Altogether, 29 families and 54 singles left their comfortable lives in North America, and, undeterred by war, arrived home in Israel. Imagine that. Despite sirens, fear, missiles and terror, they chose to make their homes in Israel. A ray of light in the darkness – an affirmation of life and hope and peace.
The Dalai Lama, exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, was once asked: "When you look at the depressing conditions found all over the world, and the injustices that happen to people everywhere, how can you be optimistic?" A belly laugh escaped from the Dalai Lama, and then he answered: "What else would you suggest?"
"What else would you suggest?" We have every reason to be anxious and fearful and sad, every reason to wonder how peace will emerge from this intractable situation. And yet, despite the darkness and bloodshed, there is always the possibility that peace will come. There is always a reason to hope.
Thank you to the 228 new Olim in Israel for demonstrating their faith and purpose to us all. May you be successful in your new lives, and may you and your children live in peace. Amen.