Monday 30 April 2012

A Peek Into The Future

Over the past few weeks, we have been occupied with looking back.  We celebrated the exodus from Egypt and the miracle of the crossing of the Red Sea.  We stood in silence to commemorate the 6 million killed at the hands of the Nazis, and we stood in silence to commemorate the 23,000 who have given their lives for the modern State of Israel.  We celebrated 64 years of independence of the State of Israel, and considered the remarkable and miraculous events that allowed us to reach this point in time.  Come to think about it, Jews seem to spend a disproportionate amount of time looking back and commemorating the past.  I decided to pause for a moment, and try to imagine what things could look like in 50 years' time.  Not only to imagine this, but perhaps also to dream about how things could be.  I have tried to dream about a world where my children are grandparents, and to try to put Israel into that context.

I think that there is one major piece of the puzzle which is missing in current-day Israel, and which most Israelis yearn for in the future.  This is the missing peace and, with it, the recognition of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state among the nations.  A state of peace and security would bring so many advantages to the State of Israel, and could change the nature of this small country in a most dramatic way.  Most importantly, it would save hundreds, if not thousands of lives a year.  Not only the lives of soldiers would be saved, but also the lives of innocent women and children would be spared if we could create a situation where Qassam and Grad missiles are not being fired into civilian neighbourhoods, and where suicide bombers are not trying to detonate their explosives in crowded restaurants, coffee shops and buses.  It would also spare valuable government money that could be spent on education and infrastructure instead of the acquisition of military hardware and ammunition.  A state of peace would also free up our most valuable resource, the 18 to 21 year-olds, who would be free to make their contribution to Israel's economy rather than be forced to serve in the military to protect their country from constant attack.

A peace arrangement would also create a completely different dynamic with Israel's neighbours.  I can imagine a situation where Israeli citizens could spend their holidays in Beirut, which is only a few hours' drive from the central part of Israel.  Perhaps Syrian tourists would be a major source of foreign revenue for Israel's hotels and restaurants.  I can dream about Israeli irrigation technology being used to make deserts in Jordan and Syria green.

In my dream world, there is harmony and co-existence between religious and secular communities.  Somehow, the religious will find a way to make their contribution to Israeli society, as a result of which the secular communities are able to respect the religious communities and their way of life.  This, in turn, paves the way for understanding and exchange of ideas between the two communities.

In my imaginary world, members of the Knesset are there to serve the wider community rather than primarily their own interests.  While being paid a reasonable salary, they will do all that they can to save the country unnecessary expense.  Their conduct on the floor of the Knesset will be exemplary, and send a positive message to the younger generation about the way in which people should conduct themselves in public.

In the new and improved Israel, customer service will be of primary importance when dealing with companies and shops, and hotel, restaurant and coffee shop staff will give the utmost respect to their patrons.  This is a world where drivers will give way to other drivers wishing to enter into the flow of traffic, and hooters will only be sounded when danger exists on the road.  Cellphones will be silenced in elevators and other public places, and people will not resort to screaming at others in order to get their own way.

I guess that my wish list can go on forever, but it is important to dream in order to somehow improve our society.  It is critical for us to be able to continuously develop and progress with the next generation, who seem to be hungrier for information and technology than ever before.

When I think about it, the "negative" things mentioned above also have their positive sides.  There is no doubt that our young men and women who are forced to serve in the military, learn skills and behaviours which help them in the future.  The responsibility of protecting Israel's borders, and survival skills that they learn with this are great tools in their future lives.  The tenacity and attitude of never giving up are certainly traits that are instilled in our children during their military service.  In Israeli living, sometimes even shouting at people represents a form of communication that is preferable to not talking at all.  The madness of Israeli society forces people to adapt themselves in ways which lends itself to the survival of a people and a nation.  Perhaps a more orderly society would have less survival skills.

When I come to think about things, I would certainly be happier for my family to live our lives in peace and security.  I would also be happier to have greater understanding and respect between different parts of Israeli society.  This would, however,  undoubtedly come at a price which I am unable to identify or quantify now.  Perhaps this price would be too high for me?  Maybe it is better to give thanks for what we have, and to do all we can to protect it.  This must be part of the logic of spending so much time looking back.  We are really able to value and appreciate what we have now.  This is more than our grandparents could have dreamt of when they had their dreams.  Am Yisrael Chai.

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Yom Hazikaron - Passing the Baton

Today is Memorial Day in Israel - known as Yom Hazikaron in Hebrew.  It is the day that we honour the memories of nearly 23,000 soldiers who have been killed in Israel's wars over the years, and also the victims of terror who are also war casualties.  For a country of less than 8 million people, this is a high number of casualties to have suffered in a short period of time.  More than 100 of these casualties are names that have been added to the list since this day last year.  Considering that this has been a period of relative quiet, it is a huge price to pay for a small country.

It is noticeable that Yom Hazikaron is dominated by the military.  Memorial ceremonies are held at military cemeteries across the country, and a parade is held at the Kotel (the Western Wall) as part of the national ceremony presided over by the president and other dignitaries.  Military personnel are deployed in every corner of Israel to make the army's presence felt on this sad day.  Those young men and women in uniform who are not required in any official role today, are encouraged to don their uniforms and attend memorial services in their local community.  For many, this means a return to their former high school with their friends to attend the school's memorial ceremony.  It is not uncommon in Israel for former high school students to maintain close contact with their high school, by staying in touch with teachers and friends who are still students there.  This contact seems to come to a head on Yom Hazikaron when many soldiers return to visit their high schools.

I witnessed this today first-hand when I saw khaki uniforms mixing with white shirts congregated around school gates.  The white shirts represent the current students who are encouraged to wear white shirts in honour of the Memorial Day ceremony.  The khaki uniforms are obviously the former students who are now serving soldiers.  Besides bringing the important military presence to a ceremony which is all about the military, it also somehow brings home the reality of how close the military is to those students who are due to enlist in the near future.  It is almost as though the soldiers are coming to pass the baton to those who will put be enlisting over the next 12 months.  This is a really important part of our society, and something which motivates the next generation to want to play their part in the protection of the country and our people.

This year, I am in the unique position of having sons who are both in white and in khaki.  I can see things from both angles through the eyes of my sons, one of whom is already serving and the other of whom is nervously looking towards the date in the near future when he will enlist.  It is a source of enormous pride for me, and other parents like me, to see the enthusiasm and commitment with which our children are protecting the State of Israel and the Jewish people.  This motivation is surely a source of power which gives our army a strength that is way beyond the modest numbers that are serving.  That baton was passed today to the next group of young men and women who will serve their country, some beginning as soon as July of this year.

When I see how seriously our children take their responsibility and commitment to their military task, I know that we can all sleep easier at night.  Just as has been the case in previous wars of Israel when miraculous feats have been achieved against the odds and when Israel was hugely outnumbered, our youngsters are determined to do all that they can to ensure that we do sleep easier at night.  Even when they come home for evenings and weekends to enjoy some down time, they somehow always seem to have one eye on the news and on their telephone in case they may be needed for an emergency.  Just like those that have served before them, there is nothing that would keep them from responding to this if required.  There are surely few countries around the world that owe this debt of gratitude to their younger generation.

As Yom Hazikaron gives way to the jubilations of Independence Day, these same youngsters will be out partying to celebrate 64 years of the Jewish homeland.  These have been 64 miraculous and remarkable years for Jews around the world, and this is due in no small measure to the soldiers of the IDF.  It is our wish that these celebrations will continue for many more years in the future.  We also pray for the safety of our soldiers that no further names will be added to the list of fallen soldiers and bereaved families.

Monday 23 April 2012

The Greatest Miracle of All

A little more than a week has passed since we celebrated the event which, for thousands of years, was regarded as the biggest miracle in Jewish history.  This was the miracle of the crossing of the Red Sea to allow the Children of Israel an escape route from slavery in Egypt.  The festival at the end of Pesach marks this occasion.  There is now a greater a miracle that has manifested itself in Jewish history, and this is the miracle of the modern State of Israel.

Those who believe in a supernatural power and divine intervention feel that this miracle is further evidence to support their beliefs.  Even those who do not believe in this find it difficult to deny that the story of Israel over the past 64 years is as improbable as you can find.  Few betting people would have backed the possibility of a success story on that fateful day in April 1948, when David Ben Gurion declared that the name of the Jewish state would be Israel.  The odds against a successful ending increased dramatically a few hours later when the combined Arab armies declared war on Israel.  Despite this, Israel has developed into a thriving success story of the modern era.  How many of those 6 million who perished in the Nazi gas chambers, could have dreamed what Jewish life would be like in 2012?  The turnaround, even though it has occurred right before the eyes of many people who are still alive to bear witness to this, is almost unbelievable.  For some reason, we have been chosen, amongst all those Jews who have lived throughout the generations, to witness this dream and this miracle.  We are the ones who are living the life that answers many of the prayers of our ancestors before us.

It would probably be easier for me to sit here and write a list of things that are wrong with Israel and her society.  The list is long, and includes a number of fundamental issues that need urgent attention.  This would, however, do a great disservice to the numerous good things which exist here, and which are often overlooked by those who prefer to be the doom mongers.  There are enough of those in the international community who do a great job of heaping criticism on Israel, to the point that even many Jews believe their rhetoric and negativity.  The truth is that there is so much good that can serve to balance out these negative views, only that so little seems to be written about it for public consumption.

It never ceases to amaze me that a small and seemingly insignificant country like Israel can receive so much attention from the international community and media.  Since the first day that Israel came into existence, world attention has been focused on her.  Why is this?  No other country in the world has occupied so much time in UN debates and so many newspaper headlines as Israel has.  The only explanation that can be offered is that Israel somehow occupies an important and/or strategic place in the world.  Perhaps it has something to do with Israel being the only democracy in the Middle East, and the only country that operates a truly free and transparent system of government.  Or it may be because Israel represents a welcome counter-balance to the growth of radical Islam, and is a country that is not ashamed to stand up against its threat.  I have no doubt that Israel's developments in science and technology, including the receipt of numerous Nobel prizes and the invention of some of the world's most well-known systems, has had an influence on the world's regard for Israel.  When it is considered that all of this has been achieved while under constant threat of annihilation, and while forced into developing missile defense sytems and other weaponry to stay alive, the accomplishments are all the more astonishing.

The citizens of Israel are gearing up to celebrate the 64th Independence Day later this week with the usual gusto and zest that characterises these events.  There seems to be a clear understanding by everybody, young and old, of what a miracle we are all living each day that we can live in the modern Jewish state.

The celebrations will be preceded, as always, by the saddest day in the Jewish calendar.  This is the day on which we commemorate those who have died in defense of their homeland, and those who have been killed by terrorists.  We can never forget the important contribution that they have made to this modern miracle, and the suffering that their families and friends have been forced to endure as a result.  It is fitting that their memories will continue to be recalled at national ceremonies around the country, and that they will never be allowed to be forgotten.

Perhaps, the greatest evidence of the fact that the miracle is valued by the younger generation, is the extent to which they are willing to volunteer themselves for military service.  A very high percentage of young people are putting themselves forward to serve in the elite fighting units, which also undertake the most dangerous missions.  Even though there is a growing movement that objects to serving in the IDF, it continues to amaze me how many of Israel's young people serve in the military, and how committed they are to doing so.  One of the most moving stories for me is one of a young man who is wheelchair-bound due to a congenital disorder.  The nature of his illness is such, that the IDF took no time at all to exempt him from military service.  But this is no ordinary young man, and he was determined to serve his country in any way he could, even if his physical condition limited him severely in what he is able to do.  So he applied to the IDF to volunteer in any possible capacity.  My surprise at this act was surpassed only by my surprise at the IDF's response.  Today, he wheels his chair around in his khaki uniform like all others of his age in the service of his country.  The IDF has provided the required transport to allow him to reach his base each day, and ensures that he receives all necessary medical care.

As we celebrate the 64th anniversary of Israel's independence, I try to imagine what my grandparents and great-grandparents would think and feel if they were here to witness this.  The scene would surely bring tears to their eyes.  Out of all the worthy people who have lived throughout Jewish history, it is little me who has the merit to live the dream.  It is my prayer that we can continue to respect and value this miracle, despite the best efforts of the international community.  The last 64 years is evidence that even these evil forces can be overcome.

May the State of Israel continue to grow and flourish in all respects, and may we merit to see the miracle of peace added to the abundance of dreams that we have already realised.

Monday 16 April 2012

Sometimes, It's Better the Devil You Know .....

The civil war in Syria is already a year old.  The "Arab Spring" started in 2011, and we are already in the Spring of 2012.  If we believe those in the know, the Syrian civil war could last for another 6 to 12 months before any sort of final solution is reached.  For Israel, it is critical to try to predict what the final solution could look like, in order to make relevant security arrangements for the new reality that she will inevitably have to face.

The security situation with Syria has experienced its ups and downs over the past 64 years.  Israel has been at war with Syria 3 times since 1948, and has also been involved in numerous border incidents and skirmishes over the years.  Despite the fact that Israel has not had an official war with Syria since 1973, Syria has continued to represent a significant threat to Israel.  This threat has come, not only from the border that Israel shares with Syria, but also from the huge financial, military and political support that Syria has provided to terrorist organisations which are working to destroy the State of Israel by any means.  Despite these constant threats, it would be fair to say that the border with Syria has been relatively stable and quiet since the guns went silent after the Yom Kippur War in 1973.  The fact that Israel has never been on the losing side of a war with Syria may have something to do with this, and Israel has certainly benefited from this relative calm.  A new reality in Syria could potentially be much worse than this.

It is believed that the minority Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad (and similarly that of his father Hafez al-Assad before him) has given a great deal of thought to the possibility that the majority may rise up against its minority tribe.  The Sunni Muslims are the great majority of the Syrian population comprising nearly 75% of the population, and the Alawites are a minority tribe falling under the umbrella of the arch-rival Shia group.  For the ruling family, this has always represented a significant threat to their rule, and to their general safety.  This threat was regarded as so significant, that detailed contingency plans were drawn up for the moment when Assad and his Alawite followers may be driven from power in Damascus.  These contingency plans are now the focus of attention, as it seems as if the moment for them to be activated is nearing.  It is rumoured that the plans involve the Alawites setting up some sort of independent homeland in the area of their stronghold in the Alawite Mountains, near to the Syrian towns of Homs and Tartous.  It is further rumoured that this new homeland would immediately seek international allies and recognition.  As ironic as it seems, Israel is one of the countries that have been identified for possible friendship with the Alawite nation when all of this transpires.  Suddenly, the new Alawite homeland and the State of Israel will have a common enemy in the form of Sunni-ruled Syria.  Such a relationship would, however, be complicated by the natural grouping of the Alawites alongside Iran, a fellow Shia majority country.

When contemplating the possibility of the above events taking place, it is clear that leaving Syria to the Sunnis following the flight of the Alawites to the mountains represents a huge threat to Israel.  Any situation that does not involve a formal handover of power in a controlled and organised fashion is a major threat on Israel's border.  This is particularly true when considering the quantity of arms and ammunition that Syria possesses.  It is also very likely that a Sunni-controlled Syria will forge much closer links with their Sunni compatriots in Hamas.  This is a further threat that Israel is forced to give serious thought to.  Shia-controlled Hezbollah may find themselves side-lined in this shift of power, but that organisation will continue to enjoy strong support and backing from their fellow Shias in Iran.

The possible new look in Syria set out above represents a major threat to the balance of power and stability in the Middle East.  Despite the fact that the Arab-Israeli conflict has continued unabated for more than 65 years, there has been an element of stability within the regional conflict.  The relative quiet along the Syrian border has been part of that relative stability.  Perhaps it is for this reason that the Israeli government has not been vociferous in speaking out on the events taking place in Syria.  It may be that the Israeli government has no real interest to see the end of Assad's regime too quickly.  Sometimes, its better the devil you know ................

Tuesday 10 April 2012

The Powers of Deception over Pesach

The spring has come, and Pesach is suddenly upon us.  It is astonishing how easy it is to shift attention from all the issues relating to Israel's safety and security, to the seemingly mundane activities relating to preparation and separation for Pesach.

Until a short time ago, the newspapers and national agenda were filled with stories of Iran's nuclear program, of Grad missiles being fired from Gaza and about preparations being made for a possible war of great significance.  It is great that Pesach has come around to distract us from these matters of importance, which have a tendency to weigh heavily on the minds of many of Israel's citizens.  Somehow, the festival has managed to deceive us all into feeling and believing that the existential threat has somehow been relieved, even for a few short days.

The days have become warmer and the spring cleaning has been undertaken at a manic pace.  Furniture and household items have been put on the streets to make place for the new replacements in honour of Pesach.  Many of the discarded items seem hardly used, and many of them were snapped up by those not quite in a position to replace their items with new from the shop.  Adverts on the radio and TV all seem to have Pesach tunes as their theme, and gifts are being dragged around by hundreds of motorcycle couriers to business associates, family and friends. Charity organisations have been in top gear distributing thousands of food parcels to the needy, to ensure that everybody can make a basic Seder, and that everybody has what they need to observe the festival.  Supermarkets have covered their aisles to prevent people reaching those items that may contain any chametz (leaven), and they are giving away packs of matzah for little or no charge to those who spend more than a certain amount.  On the day before Pesach, the air was filled with the smoke of the burning of the last remnants of any chametz that people had collected from their homes.  This familiar smell announces in no uncertain terms that Pesach is upon us.

Pesach celebrates two of the greatest miracles in Jewish history - the exodus from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea.  We are told that the 7th day of Pesach is a holiday to mark day upon which Moses and the children of Israel cross the Red Sea safely ahead of the following Egyptian army.  Now, a few thousand years later, we are told that we are living an even greater miracle than that - the miracle of the State of Israel.  The Sinai Desert still represents a considerable challenge for the Jewish people.  Whereas then, it was all about how to cross this safely, now it is about how to prevent terrorists from using the cover of the desert to ship rockets and fire them towards Israel.  Then as now, astonishing events have taken place.  There is no plausible explanation as to how a nascent Israeli army succeeded in holding off the well-trained and well-equipped armies of multiple Arab countries during the War of Independence.  Some call it good fortune, and others call it a miracle sent from heaven. The reality of what happened, however, cannot be denied.  A succession of wars has been forced upon Israelis, and they have fought back in a bid to survive and to flourish.  Who would think that a nation decimated by the horrors of the Holocaust could rise to such heights?  Who would have guessed that Israel could be a technological and agricultural powerhouse in the region, and could make such huge contributions to the world in so many different ways?

Just as quickly as Pesach has pounced upon us, so it will be gone.  Soon afterwards, we will mark memorial days in quick succession to commemorate those who have fallen in the Holocaust and those who have fallen in wars and terror attacks in the modern State of Israel.  And then we will celebrate the biggest miracle of the Jewish people, the 64th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel.

Even though the threat of a war with Iran, and the firing of Grad and Qassam rockets into civilian areas may have been forgotten for a short time, it is always lingering there somewhere in the background.  Pesach has allowed us to step into a mystical wonderland which is filled with fun and good things, but only until the next reality hits home.  We know that there are many out there who seek to destroy this dream, and to destroy the aspirations of the Jewish people to live in freedom to determine our own destiny.  Pesach teaches us that we were born to be a free nation, and the State of Israel provides exactly this for the Jewish people.  Being able to celebrate Pesach in Israel means marking some of the greatest miracles in Jewish history in the land that surely represents the greatest miracle we have experienced.  We will not allow anybody to take this away without a fight.  Our army is ready for this.

I often ask why I have merited the precious honour of being able to live in the Jewish homeland.  I think about how my grandparents and great-grandparents would have given almost anything to have this honour.  I think about what the victims of the Shoah would have given to know that a strong Jewish army exists to guard and protect the rights of Jews all around the world.  This is my reality, and it is one that I am enormously humbled to be able to partake in, and immensely proud to share.

In wishing all readers a wonderful Pesach, it is my wish that the story of Pesach will continue to inspire us to fight for our freedom and for our self-determination.  This will continue to drive the modern-day miracle.

Monday 2 April 2012

Unspeakable Tragedies

I did write a blog last week, which I was unable to post due to technical problems incurred while I was travelling.  It covered the hideous story of the murder of the innocent victims, particularly young children, at the Jewish school in Toulouse.  It is my conclusion from this event, and from a series of events in which Islamic radicals have killed innocent men, women and children, that the strength of anti-Jewish and anti-western sentiments within the Islamic radical movement are at dangerously high levels.  They are reminiscent of the anti-Semitism that was in evidence prior to the Holocaust, the worst example  of genocide known to man.  There can be no doubt that the program of legitimising the hatred of Jews on an institutional, national and international level that the the Nazis embarked upon, was a key driver in the murder of millions of Jews without any meaningful opposition being raised.  There is clearly an attempt by radical Islamists to recreate this legitimisation, and the UN and other international bodies are still unwilling or unable to do anything to oppose this in any substantial way.

Since that tragedy, a further tragedy has befallen a Jewish family.  This time, the disaster took place in the Israeli city of Rehovot where a father and five children were killed in a house fire.  Perhaps one of the most dramatic parts of this disaster, is the fact that the mother of the family is the only survivor.  Avivit Shaer has been left a devastated and broken woman after losing her husband and five children in the space of a few deadly minutes, when an electric short destroyed her world.  How she is able to survive such misfortune is beyond my comprehension.  There is a view that she may have been better off to have perished along with her family, rather than haiving to deal with the after-effects of this terrible loss.  Only a few days before, she had completed the seven day "shiva" period of mourning for her brother who died of cancer.  She is now sitting shiva for her husband and their five children.

In an emotional scene, Eva Sandler, whose husband and two children were murdered in Toulouse, paid a condolence call on Avivit.  There was no dry eye in sight as the two women comforted each other for their losses, and did all that they can to provide the other with reinforcement for their faith.  Both religious women, they are trying to maintain their belief that this tragedy has happened for the best, and that G-d has good reasons for putting them through such suffering.  Avivit explained that she believes that she may never understand why this tragedy has befallen her, as humans have limited ability to believe G-d's actions and intentions.  This is immense faith coming from a woman who has suffered such extreme heartbreak.  In a show of some of the inner turmoil that her emotions are suffering, Avivit told Eva that at least her family died "al kidush Hashem" - in the sanctification of G-d's name - rather than as the victims of negligence that was the case with her own family.  This is reference to the fact that the Sandler family was murdered simply because they were Jewish, and for no other reason.

Despite the fact that Avivit Shaer feels that being murdered for being Jewish is a more justified and honourable way for a family to meet their demise rather than because of negligence involved in a house fire, it is horrifying that such acts of discrimination are still taking place in a so-called enlightened world.  This type of behaviour is reminiscent of the Dark Ages, when uneducated masses took every word of their leaders at face value and followed their instructions without thought.  The problem is that modern anti-Semitism is not based on lack of education, or blindly following orders as was frequently the case in Nazi Germany.  Mohamed Mehra was clearly influenced and trained by groups like Al-Qaeda before going on his killing spree in Toulouse.  His actions, however, seem to have been undertaken of his own volition, and following his own instinct rather than following orders from others.  This can be more dangerous than the masses following orders of a few leaders.  Under the modern scenario, the source of a racist attack can come from any quarter in a manner that is entirely unpredictable.  This is how young children can be murdered in cold blood in their school ground by a gunmen with the same nationality, and living in the same town.

The fact that such virulent anti-Semitism is in evidence shows some type of failure in society, following the undertakings at the end of the Holocaust.  The establishment of the UN was, amongst other things, designed to prevent events like the Holocaust from recurring.  Despite this, the international community has systematically failed to prevent this in places such as Rwanda, Bosnia and many other locations.  It has also failed to prevent anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiments that have slowly risen to boiling point.  This failure to stem the increase of hatred, racism and discrimination spells trouble for the future.  Racist behaviour leads to further hatred and violence, all of which means that genocides are more likely in the future.

Even though Avivit Shaer has a feeling that losing family members to anti-Semitism is more honourable than loss of life due to negligence, I hold the opposite view.  Of course, I understand that she wishes the members of her family to be remembered for being prepared to stand up for their beliefs and their religion, even at the risk of death, in the way that Rabbi Yonatan Sandler and his children were gunned down.  She may, however, draw some strength that her family had the honour and privilege to exercise their faith and beliefs in the Jewish state before their lives were so cruelly cut short.  The State of Israel is surely the biggest miracle to have occurred in Jewish history, and the Shaer family was a part of this miracle.  It is only through a strong Israel that we can be assured that the interests and safety of Jews around the world will be taken care of.  Unfortunately, even this was not enough to save the Toulouse victims.  Eva Sandler is considering the possibility of moving to Israel to secure a future for herself, her surviving daughter and unborn child.  Unfortunately for the rest of the Sandler family, this comes a few weeks too late.  Avivit Shaer was doing all that she could to encourage Eva to bring her family to Israel.

Our heartfelt condolences go to both families, as well as to the family of 8 year-old Miriam Monsonego who was killed in Toulouse.  May the memories of the departed be for a blessing.