IT’S DOUBTFUL that when Emunah’s Na’avah Tehilla Group was planning its spring luncheon and fashion show in honor of the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, its leaders realized that the date, May 8, is also VE Day, commemorating the end of the Second World War in Europe after Germany signed an unconditional surrender. Without Germany’s surrender, there might not have been a Jerusalem Day, because there might have been no Holocaust survivors.
The threads of history have a very distinct weave. While celebrating both VE Day and Jerusalem Day, it is important to remember that just as glass is shattered at Jewish weddings as a reminder of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, so when celebrating VE Day and Jerusalem Day, we should remember the enormous human sacrifice that preceded both events in the same vein that we have Remembrance Day for the Fallen just before Independence Day.
Aside from that, people attending the Na’avah Tehilla event at Ramat Rachel will have much more than lunch and a fashion show. Rabbi Dr. Aaron Adler will present a talk on different aspects of Jerusalem; François Coriat, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Theater Department, will talk about genuine 1967 fashions and might bring some examples, while current fashions will be presented by Bianco Nero. There will also be a photo exhibition of Emunah Jerusalem members as they were in the 1960s, and everyone will receive a souvenir booklet with fascinating information about Jerusalem and vignettes supplied by Emunah members of their memories of Israel during the Six Day War. And of course, there will a raffle with some very interesting prizes.
FOR EIGHT months, according to a release by the Hitorerut Movement, Jerusalem suffered from a public transportation deficit of 120 Egged bus drivers.
That may well have been the reason for the increase in female bus drivers in recent months. Repeated queries to the Transportation Ministry by Hitorerut finally achieved results at the end of March.
Many of the male bus drivers have little or no consideration for passengers. They often drive at an alarming speed, they don’t wait for elderly passengers to sit down before they begin driving, and they often brake with such a jolt that passengers literally have to hang on to their seats. A favorite sport with some of them is to close the door in the face of a passenger who ran to catch the bus and just made it.
Female drivers are much more considerate and manage to drive the bus much more smoothly than their male counterparts. The ride is seldom bumpy when there’s a female at the wheel. Women will also wait for a passenger running toward the bus, and even if they start driving before an elderly passenger finds a seat, it’s a gentle move and not one that makes anyone standing lose their balance.
A FEW days prior to Seder night, 25 lone soldiers from abroad congregated at the President’s Residence, where they were hosted by Nechama Rivlin, wife of the president, Nechama, together with Hannah Eisenkot, wife of IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.
Rivlin told the lone soldiers she was delighted to welcome them because they had demonstrated great courage in deciding to come and contribute to the security of the state. The meeting was held on the same day that Sgt. Elhai Taharlev was murdered in a terrorist attack at Ofra Junction. Rivlin noted this in her remarks and conveyed her condolences to his family.
Fixing her gaze on the lone soldiers, she said: “Each of you has your own life story and your own individual background, but each of you, without exception, is putting all of your energies and determination into benefiting the state. To be a soldier is not easy under any circumstances, but to be a lone soldier, that is so much more difficult and a reality that you have to confront with all the other complex realities here.”
Rivlin assured the soldiers that they were not really alone and that their decision to come to Israel to serve the interests of the state was greatly appreciated by many of the country’s citizens. She also urged them to go out in their free time to explore the country and enjoy themselves “because you deserve it.” Eisenkot told the soldiers that spring symbolizes growth and innovation.
As the mother of two soldiers in the standing army and three officers in the reserves, she said she could well appreciate the contributions of the lone soldiers.
Although they came from different backgrounds, she said, they shared a common denominator of a sense of mission and contribution.
Because they were all in different units, they added strength to the IDF and were an inspiration to their peers, she said.
Liel Arbiv, who came from the US to enlist as a combat soldier, said she had come on a visit 11 years ago and since then had always known she would return to become a soldier. When she immigrated, she said, she realized that in order to feel part of the state, one had to serve the state.
Fellow American Mishan Rosenzweig, who also came on his own to enlist in a combat unit, said he had many reasons for wanting to be in Israel and couldn’t pinpoint any specific reason. He was a Zionist he said.
He wanted to help prevent another Holocaust and help defend the people of Israel. He said he was convinced that everyone had the ability to effect change and to make the world a better place.
“All anyone has to do is try.” He added that the first time he came to Israel several summers ago, he saw soldiers all over the place and realized that they were giving up part of their lives in order to serve the country. He decided that he wanted to do the same.
Retired general Yoram Yair, who is the chairman of “Together for the Army,” accompanied the soldiers and said that for him, it was always an emotional experience to meet a lone soldier. “We don’t want you to feel alone,” he said.
“We want you to feel our embrace and to know that we have adopted you. Everyone cares about you, especially the army and its officers, and of course the organization which I head, and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Israeli citizens.”
There are currently 6,900 lone soldiers in the IDF, he said, of which 2,000 are new immigrants.
The others include orphans, the offspring of Israelis who live abroad, and soldiers from dysfunctional families from which they have severed contact. Of the total number of lone soldiers, 60% serve in combat units. There is a move afoot to find an alternative term for “lone soldiers” because the description is sometimes regarded as pejorative.