Israel Inside: How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference at B’nai Israel

by | Feb 8, 2013 | What’s Happening

Monday, Feb. 18, 7 pm

Sometimes we don’t know what to think. Is Israel really a land of war, borders, politics, and falafel?

With half a dozen siblings who have chosen to begin their married lives in Israel, I know that there is so much more.

When I visit Israel I thank the soldiers, witness the checkpoints, and keep tabs on the elections. I also visit with my family. I watch my nieces and nephews run around in the parks of Jerusalem. I spend time with my siblings and friends at historic and holy sites. I listen to my brother run his small business from his state-of-the-art smartphone while my sister designs catalogs for her American clients in her tiny fourth floor apartment. Meanwhile, my youngest sister is excitedly completing her homework as she prepares to graduate from the architectural school she attends. As I walk down the street, I brush shoulders with some of the holiest sages and some of the bravest heroes of our times.

I have learned very quickly to see through some of the abrasiveness and tension in the air. Just below the surface of the most irate Israeli you can sense the ingenuity, the caring and the creativity that are the country’s greatest resources.

It’s the bus driver who drives my sister all the way home at the end of the route; the taxi driver who waits outside the hospital to see if the baby was a boy or a girl; and the soldier with a startup business who draws the attention of CEOs around the world.

Congregation B’nai Israel, in conjunction with the Community Relations Council of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, will present the film Israel Inside: How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference that explores the happier, positive aspects of the nation.

The film’s narrator, Tal Ben-Shahar, was a popular psychology professor at Harvard before he moved to Israel. His friends thought he was crazy because they saw Israel through the eyes of the news. Ben- Shahar’s goal with this film is to change that image of Israel.

In the 38-minute film, Ben-Shahar highlights six elements of Israel’s unique success. The film begins by showing the strength of Israel’s family unit and demonstrates how the supportive family environment inspires confidence and conviction.

It is true that Israel is a land of tension and adversity, but that same adversity has allowed so many Israelis to acquire a resilience that is not found among their international peers. A love of learning, a sense of responsibility, and the ability to take action all factor into Ben-Shahar’s eye opening window into Israel.

I had a teacher in Israel, Rabbi Mordechai Dolinsky, who told me that he visited the Kotel (the Western Wall) for the very first time on the holiday of Shavuot in 1967. It was right after the Six Day war and the first opportunity for civilians to visit the holy site. Rabbi Dolinsky was so taken by the experience that he went back to the Kotel the next day, and the next, and the next, and the next. To the best of my knowledge he still walks or rides the bus to the Kotel each and every day. He doesn’t go to pray, to socialize or for the photo op; he simply goes to spend a few minutes close to G-d at the holiest place on earth.

Rabbi Dolinsky makes the trip to the Western Wall each day to remind himself that Israel is not a land of war and politics, but a land blessed by G-d and a land that we are fortunate to inhabit after 2,000 difficult years of exile.

Israel Inside helps refocus on what is important: Family, commitment, action, perseverance, and even chutzpah.

Discussion lead by Rabbi Haber follows the film.

This is the second in a series of films organized by the CRC and hosted at synagogues throughout Tidewater. It is free and open to the community.

For more information or to RSVP by Feb 15: To learn more about CRC initiatives, check out

by Rabbi Sender Haber