These are anxious moments for our people, and I am so inspired by the way our community has reached out to one another (especially those with children visiting Israel) to offer support during this time. It has been a while now since we have had a group in Israel during a time of unrest. I am reassured by the NFTY in Israel program leaders and the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati who are keeping track of the college student interns in Tel Aviv that they are closely monitoring the situation.
Here is what I’ve been reassured:
1. No program with Americans participating will take any unnecessary risk. None.
2. When needed, itineraries are changed to provide maximum safety.
3. Our students are never brought to a “hot spot” or a potential hot spot.
4. Each sponsoring group understands fully the responsibility with which we’ve entrusted them.
5. Any free time is significantly curtailed when there is any type of threat that could possibly affect a group (e.g., free evening for dinner becomes a group trip to a restaurant).
6. It is generally much more nerve-racking to be watching American television than to be a tourist during this time.
I have always been moved by the following prayer, which I’ve adapted to the current situation. We will do a modified version of this prayer during services tomorrow night–perhaps our community can gather tomorrow at services to support our families and our kids–and to pray for the well-being of all in the region.
Rabbi Sandford Kopnick
The Valley Temple
Grant us Peace, Your most precious gift, O Eternal Source of Peace…, and give us the will to proclaim its message to all the peoples of the Earth. .Bless the land and people of Israel, that it may ever be a stronghold of peace, and its advocate among the nations. May contentment reign within its borders, health and happiness within its homes. Begin to sow the seeds of friendship among the peoples of the Middle East. Let these days of strife be transformed into days of calm and peace, and may the love of Your name hallow every home and every heart. We praise You, O God, Source of Peace.
(adapted from Union Prayer Book, newly revised)
An update from Rabbi Kopnick:
Thought you’d like to see our good-looking group from GUCI First Session. Everyone seems to be having a grand time!!
Today, the middle group (Gezah) starts a camp-out. Wednesday, the eldest group does a musical for the camp. Friday, the final shabbat of the session featuring a reunion of the avodah group for which I was unit-head in 1984. Two of our Temple members are returning to camp for that reunion–when they were my campers and I was their unit-head….very fun.
July 4 is on Friday–which combines Shabbos and Independence day–it has happened before….it will be memorable.
This session, the group has been studying heroes and characters….I think Josh Weikel will be using the Purim Costume Superman Suit soon….
We have a record group–20 here now, and another 14 or so coming next session…. We are so grateful to the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati for the commitment that they make toward Jewish camping.