My friend Gavin Gross just posted the most amazing conversation he had on the bus this morning in Jerusalem:
“Those were the worst times I ever experienced:” while listening to the news of the war in Gaza, a 79-year old Israeli widow sitting next to me on a Jerusalem bus gave me her historical perspective:
Born in Jerusalem into a seventh-generation family in 1935, she recalled the 18-month War of Independence (1947-1949) as Israel’s toughest moment. The Arabs set up ambushes and blockaded the road from Tel Aviv into Jerusalem, so food and supplies were scarce for the city’s Jews. She said that water was rationed, and as families queued to collect their daily bucket, Jordanian planes bombed the lines and she saw people blown apart. Inside the city, there was fighting between Jewish and Arab neighbourhoods.
She reminded me that 6,000 Jews died in that war, an immense 1% of the then population of 600,000 (the equivalent would be 80,000 dead in today’s Israel and 3 million dead in today’s U.S.).
She finished by telling me that she wakes up every day and thanks God for the way her city Jerusalem has developed, and how successful and powerful the State of Israel has become, something she couldn’t imagine as a 12-year old girl when the new nation was fighting for its life.
Today every Israeli feels the death of our soldiers in Gaza as a painful and personal loss, but I received this woman’s story as an important one, of how far the State of Israel has come in its short history.
A peaceful and quiet Shabbat to everyone.
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