40 More Reasons to be Proud

This week, many headlines reported protests involving Israeli soldiers.

Kotel image, Western Wall image

Anyone who is not a frequent visitor to the Old City

 might have missed what has become a regular event in Jerusalem.

Near the Kotel, in the Western Wall Plaza,

the IDF holds swearing-in ceremonies for soldiers.

Soldiers of the Golani Brigade were sworn in last Thursday

Canadian flag image

and smart supporters knew to arrive early to get a good spot.

Israeli soldier image, Ethiopian image

Hundreds of young men

Female Israeli soldiers image,

and young women participated.

Joining with the hundreds of young Israelis were lone soldiers

from the Ukraine, France, Brazil and Venezuela,

Nevada and New York, Baltimore and Los Angeles in the USA.

Before the ceremony began,

over 40 lone soldiers were treated to a delicious dinner

 sponsored by the Lone Soldier Center in memory of Michael Levin.

As at most Israeli gatherings, food is a central feature,

but lone soldiers do not have the families to bring them treats to eat.

Israeli soldiers image, Ethiopian image

Lined up and ready to go,

 hundreds of soldiers filled the tunnel near the Kotel.

Golani Brigrade image

Inside the tunnel a group of soldiers started singing, 

“Mi Mesugal” Division 13… can do it.”

soldier using cellphone image

Finally it was time to start…how did we find anyone before cellphones?

Western Wall Plaza image

As the young soldiers marched in

Ceremony at the Wailing Wall

the plaza was packed with thousands of spectators,

 as family and friends

Israeli soldiers at attention, image

and visitors all tried 

to see

Iphones as cameras image

and photograph the newest graduating soldiers of the IDF.

Israeli flag image

The Israeli flags flew and the flame burned brightly.

Golani soldier, Golani emblem image

Congratulations and thanks go out to all those who serve.

Yes…I am biased to the Golani Brigade and lone soldiers,

as my two sons served as lone soldiers in the Golani Brigade

and just typing these words brings tears to my eyes.

Along with the parents of last week’s inductees,

we are filled with pride and concern. 

 Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the next generation 

 would not have to be called to serve in the army?

If you have a minute check out this video of the singing

 http://youtu.be/rZh5PMlqjPA

and many more photos from the dinner and tekes, ceremony can be found here:

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.317574261618719.72742.152997821409698&type=3&l=6fc61249f3

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.317592001616945.72744.152997821409698&type=3&l=f96033cff6

Accepting Diversity

With so much bountiful rain this week it was hard to go outside

and even harder was to get out of bed from under the warm covers.

Holding a dripping umbrella on the windy streets,

on the buses or light rail train, while trying to stay dry, was a real challenge.

Jerusalem light rail train, Machane Yehudah station, rain

Like this scene at the Machane Yehuda light rail train station,

Jerusalem was wet, cold and dark much of the week.

Ethiopian immigrants brought their protests to Jerusalem,

and headlines were of religious intolerance and racial discrimination.

It was hard to find something positive to write about.

But then on Sunday, in spite of 28 mm of rain,

more than 145 people attended a symposium entitled,

  “The Challenge of Accepting the Diversity of our Children’s Choices.”

Gilo neigborhood, Beit hayeled

The symposium was held at AMIT Beit Hayeled,

located in the Gilo neighborhood, 

a home to 120 children who for various reasons

had to leave their family’s homes.

 AMIT’s goal is to strengthen Israeli society by educating and

 nurturing children within a framework of academic excellence,

religious values and Zionist ideals.

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein

 In his opening remarks, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein of New York City

spoke of the need for ahava, love.

Dr. Tovah Lichtenstein, professor emerita of the Bar Ilan University

 School of Social Work, who has inspired thousands of students,

said that we should seek a thinking person,

not clones of ourselves from our children.

Benny Lau, Rabbi Benny Lau

Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau, who works tirelessly for religious unity,

spoke of the relationship of Avraham and Lot, 

a model of one family member giving space to the other,

while remaining nearby when needed.

Dr Tova Hartman

Dr. Tova Hartman, Bar Ilan University psychology professor and 

 activist for women’s inclusion, stressed the importance of 

parents giving a clear message of their agenda to their children.

The three panelists answered questions after their presentations.

People bundled up and went back out to face the cold winds.

The special speakers at this symposium, spoke of the need 

for tolerance and unity and acceptance of differences.

The teachers in AMIT schools, “just do it” daily.

The AMIT network of 98 schools serves over 25,000 students 

and is supported by many volunteers and generous donors.

With the help she received, the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants

was able to study at the Technion and became a doctor;

 today she is serving in the IDF…

now that is something positive to write about.