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Between Sderot and Arizona

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

At the height of the most difficult crisis ever faced by American Jews, I was privileged to lead a Zoom meeting last night between the Beit Tefilah congregation in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Re'ut, a commmunity organization in Sderot, under the auspices of the World Mizrahi Zionist movement. Here are a few memorable moments from that meeting:

Rav Pinchas Allouche in Arizona showed the residents of Sderot, a Gaza border town, what he has in his office – a picture of the three Israeli youths who were kidnapped and murdered six years ago, together with a metal rose. "This flower was fashioned from missiles that were fired on the city of Sderot," Allouche said. "It was given to me on a visit to your city and since then it is here next to me because in my eyes this is the essence of Judaism – to turn difficulty into opportunity, to turn bitter into sweet, to turn a missile into a flower."

• The mayor of Sderot Alon Davidi shared his experience on how to cope with a crisis: "A community needs to ask itself about its purpose: 'What are we doing here?' In answering this question, it will grow stronger. In addition, the most helpful tool in a time of crisis is thinking and being concerned about others. To be active and to assist someone weaker than yourself. There is always someone to help."

Rav David Fendel and his wife described their aliyah from the United States to Sderot: "We came from the Americans to the Moroccans," they smiled. "As newcomers here, we were always on the receiving end. Everyone worried about us and showered us with love." Addressing the community in Arizona, they added: "Now we have become the givers and worry about you, our brothers in the Diaspora."

I looked at the computer screen and at the names of the faraway participants who were so excited about getting to know each other: Steve Goldstone and Tehila Yifrach, Mindy Franklin and Dalia Harel. Mark and Peter with Liron and Yaniv. Everyone asked to maintain the connection and to have their children hold a meeting. Rav Allouche said in closing that he sees with his own eyes what is written in Sefer HaTanya: "All of Israel are truly brothers by virtue of the common source of their souls."


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