I’ve, oddly, had very little interaction in my past with people from Israel. In fact, even more candidly, I’ve never been face to face with an Israeli. I certainly know some of the history of the country and read the stories of the daily saga that is life in Israel regularly. But, it was only recently that I had a chance to meet someone from Israel.
In late May, nine injured Israeli soldiers were in Seattle as part of a mission to connect with the people of Seattle as well as provide them with a spiritual and mental rehabilitation environment. Many of these soldiers have undergone traumatic life experiences over the past few years including days of painstaking physical rehab to cope with the injuries of war. They spent much of their visit studying, praying, touring beautiful areas of Seattle, going to baseball games, speaking at schools and elsewhere and generally enjoying themselves.
This recent article in the Jewish Times nicely captured the experience, purpose and trip:
I had the good fortune of getting to spend some time with this group of guys during their visit. And, we’re now putting together a DVD of their trip to Seattle which provides me the chance to remain introspective about the subject. Simply put, these gents were impressive. I repeatedly found them to be fun, intelligent, sophisticated, cultured, mature and grounded. Many of them had suffered greatly, both during their time as soldiers as well as during their daily lives in Israel, and their indications of pain were effectively on display on a number of occasions. They have also have a great appreciation for life. They were often quick to break-out sporadically in to singing and guitar playing, as one example. These men could have easily grown up with me in the United States and, yet, they seemed different in many ways–as if they had seen things both good and bad about life, that I hadn’t nor would likely ever experience. It was, at once, both a humbling and cool feeling. (I was also surprised how much they liked Crocs. Israel is a small country but it’s a nice market these days for those shoes I have a feeling.)
I was honored to be in their presence and am grateful for the service they have provided to Jews around the world and Americans. I only hope I can repay them in some small way by providing them a memento, in the form of a DVD, that effectively captures for them what was a great exercise in rehabilitation and peace for everyone involved.