Sunday, March 13, 2016

JNF mega-mission leaders leave Israel inspired -- and inspiring others


Photo: Alicia Yaffe
The border task force's itinerary included a stop at the Sderot indoor playground, where kids can play without fear 
of rocket fire.  

Last week, Jewish National Fund task forces fanned out across Israel as part of JNF's $1 Billion Roadmap Mission. One of the groups met with Adele Raemer, who was born in the U.S. and has lived on a kibbutz on the Gaza border since 1975. Adele, a teacher, writer, and moderator of the Facebook group Life on the Border, shared her thoughts about that meeting in a blog post for the Times of Israel. We are reprinting her words here. 

By Adele Raemer

I gave another talk this week. 

I DO actually have a day job. A pretty demanding and time-consuming one, in fact (actually...MORE than one), but I figure I work enough late nights and throughout enough weekends to allow myself every so often to play hooky for a few hours to devote the time to what I see as my "Zionism" these days.

So I snuck away from my pressing "to do" list for a few precious hours one morning this week to talk to a group of visitors over from the States on a JNF task force to the border regions (Sderot, Shar Hanegev, and Eshkol) to try to depict what life here is all about. Here in Israel. Here on the border. In 2016.

I gave my talk, accompanied by the photographs which, as an obsessive-compulsive documenter of life, I have taken over the years and embedded into a presentation with the essential facts that keep me on track during my note-less talk (I'm talking my life -- I don't need a script). To add the spices of colors, shapes, and sounds to my words.

Life on the Border/Facebook
A mobile alert lets border residents know 
of incoming rockets Friday. 
And I cried when I got to the sad part. The part when we hear the sound of the red alert incoming-rocket warning, which simultaneously saves yet terrifies those of us who live with it. The part describing the last day of that damned war, when our homes and lives were violated so profoundly, turned upside-down forever. I've given the talk a gazillion times already. But I still cry. It still hurts. The knife still sticks itself down my throat, into my heart, and slashes away at my psyche and memory and sense of security.

They asked tough questions. There are no easy questions when it comes to our lives on the border. Nor are there any easy answers. Only the complex and oft-times conflicting ones that my heart, soul, and mind grapple at coexisting with. 

I even got a peek into the amazing way their visit works. These are people who are devoting their limited pool of time and their hard-earned money to come over to Israel and see how they can help, how they can make a difference. They could have just as easily gone on a cruise to Bermuda, a trek in Iceland, or relaxed at a fancy hotel in Hawaii. Instead, they flew thousands of miles, spent hours in buses to hear, learn about, debate and argue where they will be able to make the most significant difference.

When I finished, they told me that I inspired them.

Well, just for the record, my tribe from the Diaspora inspire ME.

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