Lionesses of Jewish History
Nili Couzens talk 'Your contribution to Jewish Destiny' discussed the 7 prophecies in the Torah of the Jewish people, and that the significance of these are ever important to us today as they will continue to be in our future.
The 7 Judaic prophecies or wonders of Jewish history are:
1. the Jewish people are eternal; - she read a famous quote from author Mark Twain which expresses wonderment at the Jewish people and that endure while other peoples and empires decline and fall into oblivion
2. they will be dispersed among nations
3. they will be persecuted in foreign lands
4. They will always be fewer in number - Jews comprise less than 1 % of the world population
5. That the Jews will be a light unto the nations - everything we do is seen watched and judged. Furthermore Jewish peoples contribution to the world in diverse areas is disproportionate to their small number
6. The inter-dependency of Jewish people and the land of Israel
7. The return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel - Approximately 50% of the worlds Jewish population lives in Israel.
In conclusion Nili said just like Ester we remember in the chag of Purim, we all have a role to play - no matter how large or small. She wove into her discussion another lioness in Jewish history who played a vital part in the creation of the State of Israel, Golda Meir. In January 1948 when Israel's declaration of independence was imminent, and war with the Arab States seemed unavoidable Golda Meir insisted that Ben Gurion was needed at home and that she go on a mission to the US to raise much needed money to buy weapons to defend the State of Israel once decoration was declared. Meir spoke so compellingly that she raised $50M, twice the amount she was requested to raise. This set the scene for our visit later that day to Independence Hall in Tel-Aviv.
We then heard from a representative from an NGO - IsraAID, Naama Gorodischer. IsraAID is committed to providing emergency aid, and life saving disaster relief and community development. The stats are remarkable - it has reached over 1 M people in 35 different countries. Naama who has degrees in education, psychology and community development has worked in countries from Kenya and Uganda to Sri Lanka. She lived in a Kenyan refugee camp and developed an informal school and community centre providing the only access to education for many. Naama is an inspiration and is fulfilling a core belief in Judaism in the provision of humanitarian aid.
Our bus took us to Tel Aviv where we sent to Beit Haatzmaut - Independence Hall. We were taken to a room with a large photograph of Theodore Herzl looking down on us. This was the home of the first mayor of Tel Aviv, Meir Dizengoff. After the death of his wife in 1930 he founded an art museum in a section of his house and opened it to the public. We sat in the room in the museum, where on 14 May 1948 David Ben Gurion assembled at the very same large table on a podium in front of us with his provisional government and declared the establishment of the State of Israel, marking the end of the exile of the Jews. Golda Meir, we learned, was so moved at the time that she was unable to speak. I personally found it exiting and exhilarating to be in this room where Israel was born, made even more poignant by the picture of the of the father of Zionism watching over.
The moment Rachael Frankel was introduced there was a hush and silence, all of us mothers ourselves, our hearts went out to her. Rachael is the mother of Naftali Frankel one of the 3 boys who were kidnapped and murdered in 2014. When Adrianne Gould asked her how she sustained her faith she replied that that while she experienced a crisis of faith and felt estranged, but that was a part of her dynamic relationship with G-d. Ill never forget Rachael's words relating how she found an envelope in her sons room bearing 10% of his wages he had set aside for charity. She said that while she will never get over the pain of loosing her beloved son and faced the pain rather than escape from it, but chose not to become that pain or sorrow, and that our lives are filled with blessing. Ill never forget this incredibly courageous woman whose sheer strength and wisdom shines through unimaginable pain that no mother or parent should have to endure.
Then on to a very picturesque wedding and ballroom venue in Neve Ilan, called Kedma not far from Jerusalem where we celebrated our final JWRP evening with the entire group of 300 odd participants.
We heard from a young Israeli lady who raised money for a Mechina (a year program to train young Israelis for the army) for economically disadvantaged girls on the periphery. She spoke of her dogged determination to raise awareness and money for this cause - she said that she never gave up, and as reflection of her spirit said "If someone closes the door in your face - go in through the windows!!"
We dined on delicious food and wine, and danced and sang. Together women from various countries across 4 continents we joined together to sing the Hativah (see David Sussman's (our tour guide) video - this is what 350 women singing Hatikva looks and sounds like!" https://www.facebook.com/david.sussman.370/videos/10154366710106793/ We finished feeling exhilarated and on a high.