Light In Darkness - Rabbi David Kornberg

Written by Rabbi David Kornberg on November 28, 2023

The unwritten theme of today’s meetings and conversations has been how do Israelis keep their souls in the face of such immense darkness. The repeated “mantra” we heard was that we can’t let the horror and brutality change who we fundamentally are.

We began at a Hamal, or operational center, that housed grassroots efforts to step up and address the overwhelming needs of the displaced families and soldiers. They provide food, supplies and even clothing. We were able to volunteer in a “store” that provides clothes for those who need it but helps maintain the dignity of the people who come by not making them dig through the boxes.

Next, we heard from members of the Haredi (ultra-orthodox) community who have stepped up and led their community to be part of the world around them providing unique services enabled by their Haredi background.

The hardest part of the day was our meeting with Zaka members. They are the people who go in to recover the bodies after a terror incident. Jewish law requires the utmost respect and care in the process, which is always difficult. For these men, who were there hours after it occurred and did their work under fire, the magnitude of what they witnessed cannot be understated. Trained veteran Zaka members struggled to keep their emotions in check as they described, in vivid detail, the horrors unleashed on the men, women and children of the region. Their commitment was awe-inspiring and humbling.

We then visited Shaarei Tzedek hospital and heard about the immense challenges facing Israel’s medical facilities. After which we had an intimate visit with יצחק הרצוג - Isaac Herzog, President of Israel. In spite of the pain and the weight he was carrying, he was still hopeful and full of strength. It was another exhausting day, but one that left us with a small dose of hope, even as we wait for more hostages to be released.


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