* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin ([email protected])
I spent Shabbat in Tel Aviv with survivors from the Nova festival and evacuees. Since the outbreak of war, the Tel Aviv community of Neve Tzedek, led by Rabbi Tzvi Horowitz and his wife Rivi ,has hosted evacuees from the north and south as well as survivors of the Nova festival. Good people donate the meals and the hospitality. This week Rabbi Horowitz asked us to join them in order to speak and to see what happens there up close. The following are bits and pieces of what we saw:
- The young people from the Nova festival do not stop singing. And crying, of course. Around midnight I asked one of them named Avi why he keeps requesting one more Shabbat song. “I have friends who were murdered or kidnapped,” he said. “They came with goodness, with love, with light, and then opposite them came someone with an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade). This breaks and shatters you. They told us that part of the healing process is to sing and be happy, to believe in goodness again,” he concluded before starting to sing another song.
- I saw people from Sderot and Kiryat Shmona. The Shabbat and the community simply lifted them up, both physically and spiritually. “We are between hotels,” Priscilla from Sderot told me. “I have been with this community for four consecutive weeks. I look forward to this Shabbat togetherness, to the feeling of somehow being at home in the middle of this mess.” It is also important to know not only how to give hospitality, but how to give tasks. The chazan (prayer leader) was from Sderot.
- On Shabbat morning there was celebration of a Brit Milah (for a Tel Aviv baby who was given the name Eli) and of a Bar Mitzvah (mazal tov to Yuval Herman and his family). It was special. A huge crowd, many Tel Aviv old timers, a large contingent of new immigrants (the baby, Eli, is the son of new immigrants from France), and many young people who only now began coming to synagogue. “We continue to add good deeds and joyful celebrations in our confrontation with Hamas,” Rabbi Horowitz explained to the hundreds of diverse yet similar individuals who prayed together for peace — for the hostages, the soldiers, and the evacuees.
- Here and there people got up to speak. The journalist Ben Dror Yemini said after welcoming in Shabbat that now we need “a united Israel.” Just as it was in the event hall, so should it be in the world at large. And Yehudah — who was briefly on leave from his reserve unit in Gaza — told everyone that what he saw here gave him the strength to return to the front this week.
I thought that perhaps it was not appropriate to write all of this because of the national mood. But afterwards I thought that precisely because of our present mood, it was important that you should know about what goes on in Tel Aviv on Shabbat.