A daily news update by Leah Garber, VP, JCC Israel Center
So close — but not there yet. We were so close to a return to normalcy, to what an Israeli summer should be: sun, beach, family time and a sense of freedom. But Hamas had other plans for us, as well as for the people of Gaza. After a full 72 hours of cease-fire and three days of negotiations in Egypt, after Israel completely withdrew from Gaza raising both Israeli and Palestinian hopes, Hamas rejected extending the cease-fire. The terror organization demanded a complete end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip before it would consider renewing the ceasefire again. It's important to understand that the blockade on the Strip isn’t as Hamas describes it: Goods arrive at Israel's port from foreign countries on a regular basis and after they are checked to see if they contain weapons, they are transferred to Gaza. Israel allows exports and imports to and from Gaza, but insists that it be able to check all goods. Israel strongly opposes allowing Hamas to build and control its own sea port, as clearly we would lose control over what goes into Gaza. Without that control, weapons could be transported into Gaza and then used against Israeli civilians. The ceasefire officially ended at 8:00 a.m. this morning, but at 4:00 a.m. Hamas was already firing rockets at communities near the border. Since exactly 8:00 a.m. more than 40 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel , with two direct hits to homes in Sderot and Ashkelon. Four casualties were reported and there was property damage. The Israeli Air Force struck back a few hours after the rockets were fired. Since Tuesday morning, Israelis have been trying to restore routine. Residents of southern communities began — not without great fears — to return home. What should have been a happy return home for people is now an act of bravery. More than 50 percent of families in the south left their homes as soon as the war began and stayed with family and friends around the country. Some kibbutzim sent their families, as a group, to be hosted at northern kibbutzim, so that they would be able to keep their sense of community and feel at home away from home. Orna and Rami live in Netiv Ha'Asarah, a kibbutz located on the border of Gaza. Rami is an agriculturist growing vegetables. Rami's field is literally on the fence with Gaza. Orna left the kibbutz with their three boys as soon as the war began. She stayed with family in Ashdod, a southern town under rocket threat but not near Hamas’ deadly tunnels. Rami couldn’t afford to leave the kibbutz — someone needed to take care of the field — otherwise the family would lose a year’s worth of work. Rockets aren’t their main concern; it’s the tunnels and the deadly surprise they promise. When the 72-hour ceasefire began, Orna decided that it was too soon for her to return home. She wasn’t convinced that all the tunnels were exposed and destroyed, so she rented an apartment in Ashdod and plans to live there until she feels it's safe for her family to return to the kibbutz. When will that be? Today's renewed barrage pushes that day even further away. Rami, Orna's husband, is staying at their home in the kibbutz. He won’t allow Hamas to destroy his lifelong investment. He is connected to his land, and so is Orna. But she is painfully torn between what they have built and protecting her three boys. Her need for them to be safely away has won out. So for the moment, Orna and Rami don’t live together. Not by choice but by a cruel reality and the necessity to protect their children. Orna and Rami are just one example of thousands: Families afraid of going back home; children suffering from trauma; couples divided between their gut feeling and what the army is telling them. Israel's beautiful south, the miracle blooming in the desert, now faces a new threat, one in which families leave their homes and communities to escape from the looming threat of Hamas’ tunnels built beneath their homes These new, very real and painful dilemmas are the direct result of discovering how extensive and developed the Hamas tunnel network is. Israel is only now beginning to fully understand how cruel and dangerous this phenomenon is. In between realities: Saluting to the brave men, soldiers and civilians killed in Operation Protective Edge and an attempt to restore normalcy at an Ashdod beach. Tomorrow, Shabbat morning, we will read this week's haftara from Isaiah: Nahamu, nahamu ami, "Give comfort to my people." (Isaiah 40:1) I'm hopeful that the first of the seven Shabbats of consolation that take place between Tisha B'Av ( the 9th of Av) and Rosh Hashanah will mark the beginning of comfort for the people of Israel. Shabbat shalom
The JCC is Going to Israel. Join us...See Israel in a Whole New Way!
Israel: A Mosaic of Communities
November 8 - 18, 2014
We've had this trip planned and now more than ever think it's important to consider joining your friends from the JCC of Central NJ for this once-in-a-lifetime trip to Israel in November 2014!
We depart on Saturday, November 8 and arrive in Israel Tuesday, November 18 when the experience begins. We start off in Jerusalem and then head to Galilee and Tel Aviv. This amazing trip, which offers both group activities and time on your own, includes sightseeing, actual and educational trips through ancient and contemporary communities, exploration of the kibbutz, a culinary workshop, shopping and so much more. Click here for a sample of the itinerary.
Here are other helpful documents to help you learn more and to register.
We are very excited about this trip and thrilled you will be joining us! Please follow these simple registration directions to ensure that your registration is complete.
1. If you are going alone, please click on the INDIVIDUAL PARTICIPANT REGISTRATION FORM LINK below and type in your information. Once complete, click submit.
2. If you are going as a couple, click on the DOUBLE PARTICIPANT REGISTRATION FORM LINK below and type in your information. Once complete, click submit.
Double Participant Instructions
Double Participant Registration Form
3. Next, click here for the PAYMENT FORM. A $500 deposit is required by June 15, 2014. Please fill it out and click submit. If you are paying by check you must send that separately.
4. Finally, you must make your own FLIGHT ARRANGEMENTS. If you prefer, you can be in touch directly with Sharon Rockman about GROUP BOOKINGS (firstname.lastname@example.org or 908-347-7785). If you make your own flight arrangements, please BE SURE TO ARRIVE IN JERUSALEM on Sunday, November 9, 2014 by 4:00 p.m. Check in will be at the Inbal Hotel beginning at 2:00 p.m. Please be sure to DEPART FROM TEL AVIV on Monday, November 17, 2014 in the evening.
5. We provide a basic HEALTH INSURANCE PACKAGE during your visit to Israel. Please note that for participants over 65, there will be a surcharge. There is no deductible. The insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions, those who have been diagnosed with cancer in the past five years, dental care or eye glasses.
6. For TRAVEL, EXTENDED HEALTH OR LOSS LUGGAGE INSURANCE, you may contact JCC Association Preferred Vendor:
Director, Sales and Marketing
U.S.: (888) 747-3773
For more information and to RSVP for the parlor meetings, contact Sharon Rockman at email@example.com or 908-347-7785.