How was it on Shabbat in Lod?

כניסת השבת בלוד
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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

How was it on Shabbat in Lod?

• We welcomed in Shabbat at a pre-military academy. Signs of arson and vandalism were still there. Walls that had been blackened from a fire had already been painted white. Rabbi Itamar Ben Yaakov explained that was not the story of just one neighborhood in Lod but involved the neighborhoods of all those present. Standing amidst the wreckage, the words of "Lecha Dodi" took on special significance: "Rise, go forth from the ruins . . . Shake the dust off yourself, arise."

• We attended a Shabbat meal held by a group of families that had reunited after long and difficult days. When the violence surged, the women and children, as well as some of the men, left the Ramat Eshkol neighborhood. Now they are slowly returning to their homes. They are meeting, going over and digesting what happened, and thinking about what to do next. They are collecting broken pieces -- fragments of their material possessions and emotional fragments of their lives.

• They are discovering the dimensions of the destruction but also the dimensions of caring and mutual responsibility. Hundreds of volunteers from throughout Israel came to guard their homes. Some of them are still there. Thousands of gift packages and sweets were sent to them, with notes and dedications. What touched them the most were a multitude of treats sent from Sderot. "Do you understand how wonderful this is? They themselves are under fire, but they still go out of their way to support us."

• We participated in the Shabbat morning prayer service at the Dosa synagogue. It too was damaged but is already almost like new again. And then a huge Kiddush was held in the adjacent synagogue. Someone from the crowd recited the HaGomel prayer (thanking God for deliverance from danger) in the name of all those assembled. Erez, a neighborhood resident, presided over the conclusion of a Talmudic tractate. It is not to be taken for granted that after the unrest of recent days, a tractate would be completed. How encouraging to see such devotion to learning, to a daily discipline and unbreakable routine, to a meaningful life.

• A tour of the neighborhood included a visit to one of the houses that was burned down. Total destruction except for a box of Shokolit (chocolate powder) on a kitchen shelf and a decorative framed message hanging on the wall:. "May happiness, peace, and blessing rest within this home." The words were blackened from the fire.

• Throughout Shabbat, there were many thoughts expressed on government oversight, sovereignty, law enforcement, coexistence, police functioning, and basic respect for the law. Suddenly at the end of one of the meals, while reciting Birkat HaMazon over bread, the last words suddenly seemed especially poignant. "HaShem will give strength to his people. HaShem will bless his people with peace." Before everything comes strength, power, security, faith. And from within that strength – peace. If only.

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