Thursday, January 12, 2012

This is Israel

W.R., a member of our community, sent me this hot-off-the-press story today that I just have to share with you.
Her brother and his family have just returned from a visit to Israel. While there, they lost their camera on a street in Petach Tikvah. I'm going out on a limb here, but Joburgers have long become cynical of every finding something they had lost in a public space. So, I'm not judging Wendy's brother, but I imagine he assumed he had seen the last of his camera. 
Well, Israel is different. Considerably different. 
Today W's brother received an unbelievable email. Apparently, a young student at a yeshivah in Petach Tikvah found a camera lying on the pavement. Not seeing a name on the camera, the concerned student became creative in his quest to track down the owner and perform the mitzvah of "Hashavas Aveida", returning lost objects.  
He scrolled through the photos until he noticed one of a young boy holding a Primary School diploma. The diploma had the boy's name and the name of his school- King David Linksfield. So, together with his rabbi, the young student set out to discover where in the world this school was. Then they emailed the school office to ask if they had a student called so-and-so, the boy in the picture. The school forwarded the message to W's brother this morning and he will soon get his camera (and Israel holiday memories) back.
That's the real Israel. 
Don't believe the media's portrayal of division and derision. Sure, there is a fringe Haredi group that publicly humiliates ostensibly "immodest" women. Yes, there are secular Israelis who spit anti-religious vitriol whenever the opportunity arises. But, the real Israel is an over-sized family of diverse siblings who squabble constantly, but genuinely care about each other. 
Moshe himself was castigated by G-d in this week's Parsha for speaking unfavourably of his fellow Jews. With agenda-fueled negative reporting of our family back in Israel, we need to remind ourselves who those people really are. Every one of them a brother or sister who cares about us as we should care about them.

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