A view from Israel

by | Nov 9, 2023 | Trending News

Levi Margolin at a barbeque for troops.

Levi Margolin
Last month, I joined forces with some amazing people to visit soldiers, displaced families, and families sitting Shiva. We raised money for Israel Defense Forces units, and we transported gear to the necessary places. We cooked for families forced out of their homes and for soldiers on bases. We visited troops for barbeques, a lone soldier on his birthday, and security personnel in various locations.

So many words are floating through my mind as I try to relive it. We are family. We share each other’s pain. Their losses are our losses.

To hug a random person I never met, mourning the loss of their brother, is to hug a brother himself. To visit a lone soldier, because his father is in the U.S., is to feel like his father. To give a snack to my brother-in-law’s friend is to give a snack to my sibling! To share a barbeque with troops on their base is like a barbeque with my own family at home.

Last month, I also visited our “Ground Zero,” to bring some joy and some spiritual armor and snacks and goodies to our soldiers on the literal front line.

I was in Kibbutz Be’eri, one of the hardest hit places of the Simchat Torah attacks. I was also at Re’im, the site of the Nova Music Festival.

I witnessed the aftermath of these atrocities first hand.

  • I saw destruction.
  • I saw the remnants of a modern-day pogrom – or worse.
  • I saw many burnt down homes.
  • I saw homes with their roof blown out.
  • I saw entire walls of homes collapsed to rubble.
  • I saw cars reduced to a jumble of metal and rubber.
  • I saw toys and kids’ bicycles abandoned, never to be used again.
  • I saw a home with a rocket hole straight through the middle, sent by the IDF after determining that the Israelis were all hiding in the safe room.
  • I saw homes the IDF themselves destroyed in order to neutralize the terrorists inside, after they had killed every living being – man, woman, child, baby, dog, cat – inside.
  • I saw tents and clothing strewn across the endless fields of Re’im.
  • I felt the shock of dreams stopped in their tracks.
  • I felt the horror of lives mercilessly and brutally cut short.

I also saw…

  • Dozens and dozens of tanks with their troops aboard, facing Gaza, ready for orders.
  • Dozens of other armored vehicles with soldiers milling around and chatting.
  • Soldiers and security personnel so proud to be protecting Israel.
  • People carrying the Rebbe’s picture, or a tehillim wherever they go.
  • Non-religious people with tzitzis, because they wholeheartedly believe that at this time, this is the spiritual protection they need.

It’s NOT easy being here right now.

But it feels sooo right to be here right now.

We will not cower, we will not hide.

Indeed, the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps! The Jewish people are strong. We are united. We are one.

The Rebbe explains on Megillat Esther:
It says in the megillah, we have amongst us one nation that is scattered and dispersed amongst the other nations….
the Rebbe says that in that very sentence, Haman (the grandfather of Hamas) hinted at our greatest weapon: ONE NATION! It really is true!

We. Are. Stronger. Together. Am Yisrael Chai!
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Levi Margolin grew up in Norfolk. He lives in Jerusalem and is executive director of Birthright Israel: Mayanot.