Who better to cheer up hospitalized northerners than David Blaine, the American magician who has made his name by staying in uncomfortable places for long periods of time.
Blaine is also known for the card tricks with which he has been entertaining them since he arrived Tuesday night. Instead of doing shows, he has been meeting people in hospitals, absorption centers, villages and army bases in an effort to cheer them up.
"He knew that there's a lot of pain here," said Yossi Siegel, who instigated the trip. "I think it's a statement that conflict makes people feel very lonely and frightened. It brings in a little bit of light and shows that people care."
Blaine began planning his trip more than a week ago and would have come whether or not there was a cease-fire. "I want to ease the pain," he said in New York last week, "to bring smiles to people who have been living under the threat of missile attacks. I want to give hope to the injured, and to bring magic into people's lives."
He has been meeting people continuously since the beginning of the visit that was organized by the United Jewish Communities and the Jewish Agency, and supported by the United Jewish Appeal Federation of New York. It started Tuesday night when he went to the Hatzor Air Force Base, performing magic tricks that were broadcast live on Yehoram Gaon's Channel 2 show. Blaine plans on visiting Safed, Haifa, Deir el-Asad, Kiryat Bialik, Ziv and Rambam hospitals before leaving on August 19.
Blaine's father is of Afro-Puerto Rican descent and his mother is a Russian Jew. Primo Levi's concentration camp number is tattooed on his left forearm.
Siegel, who is accompanying Blaine, best explained how his Judaism factored into his decision to come by referring to an incident as it was unfolding. As The Jerusalem Post interviewed Siegel, Blaine had seen a heavily bandaged man on the side of the road as they drove by. On a whim, Blaine asked the driver stop the car, jumped out and gave the man a personal magic show.
"No press release, no nothing," Siegel said. "There's a great degree of purity about him - just wanting to do good. I would say that his Judaism is the idea of doing good and being kind. He definitely self-identifies as a Jew."