How great is our obligation to appreciate our ability to freely visit the Kotel and enjoy all of Yerushalayim.

Greetings from Israel!

Yocheved and I feel so blessed, honored and privileged to be spending this summer in Israel as NCSY’s Scholars in Residence for their summer programs. Hundreds and hundreds of teens benefit greatly from the diverse programs and tours that NCSY offers. Kollel and Michlelet are serious learning programs for boys and girls respectively. TJJ, led in part by our own Rabbi Broide, is bringing 10 busses filled with public school kids. Camp Give combines chesed with touring. I look forward to sharing my experiences with these incredible programs over the summer.

But for now, a general observation. I have been reading “The Prime Ministers,” by Ambassador Yehuda Avner, which recounts the behind the scenes history of the modern state of Israel from a man who witnessed and contributed to it. I can’t recommend this extraordinary book enough for the appreciation it provides of what a blessing Israel is and please God will continue to be.

As my family walked through Sha’ar Yafo (Jaffa Gate) today heading to the kotel, I shared the following story from the book with them. At 4 in the morning a few days into the 6 day war, then opposition leader Menachem Begin awoke with a premonition and turned on the radio. He heard on the BBC that a vote was occurring at the UN to pressure Israel into a cease fire with its enemies whom had been swiftly decimated. In the middle of the night, he called the Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, and begged him to call a special cabinet meeting to approve going into the Old City and conquering the remainder of Jerusalem to unite it. The meeting was called and Begin argued this could be an unique moment that history will not provide again. They must reclaim Jerusalem from the Jordanians before the international community pressured Israel to a cease fire.

A unanimous vote approved of the military operation and just 3 hours later, the now famous statement, “har ha’bayit b’yadeinu,” “the Temple Mount is in our hands” was uttered.

How fragile this precious and sacred gift is and how great is our obligation to appreciate our ability to freely visit the Kotel and enjoy all of Yerushalayim.

On behalf of my family, from the Holy City – Shabbat Shalom