web analytics
July 23, 2014 / 25 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Heroes And Those They Inspire

            Israel was at war, and though I live across the ocean, I felt like I was on high alert. Strangely enough, I was actually grateful to have experienced this feeling during the crisis.

 
The weeks of unrest for Jews worldwide leading up to the war coincided with the weeks prior to and following my sister’s wedding. From the fiasco at Beit HaShalom in Hebron to the Mumbai massacre and the escalated Hamas rocket shooting, I was torn between celebration and mourning, between happiness and wrath. And I realized how easy it is for one immersed in personal matters to shift focus from intense concentration on the klal to individuals and family members.
 
During those weeks I would feel extreme resentment over the Israeli government’s manhandling of the Beit HaShalom protesters and then continue on to my next gown fitting. I cried over the innocent victims in Mumbai and then wiped my tears and filled in more names on the hall’s seating charts. Kassam rockets crashed down in Sderot and Ashkelon while I prepared another cake for the Sheva Brachos.
 
Though I’m no hard-core activist, this period of intense entanglement with private matters definitely curtailed my usual depth of involvement with Jewish issues. It takes above-average stamina and devotion to effect real change even under the most ideal circumstances, making it all the more remarkable that there exist those relatively few Jewish heroes who are able to sustain fierce involvement in righteous causes regardless of where their personal lives take them.
 
Heroes are also human, however, and though their dedication and their will to fight may not intervene, mortality can. Such was the thought that occurred to me after my initial shock on learning of the sudden death of modern-day hero Tsafrir Ronen, z’l. Tsafrir suffered a fatal heart attack on Dec. 27 at the young age of 53. He left behind a wife and three daughters.
 
Tsafrir was the consummate Zionist. A secular Jew who espoused the ideals of ahavat Eretz Yisrael, his mantra was Jewish identity, his constant slogan “There can be no Jewish state without Jewish identity.” He worked tirelessly and passionately on behalf of that motto. A fervent supporter of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, he was also an outspoken critic of Israeli policies – the Oslo “peace” accords, the withdrawal from southern Lebanon and the Gush Katif expulsion – that in his view harmed the Jewish state.
 
I first met Tsafrir last year when I accompanied him and another Jewish activist on a visit to the Jewish National Fund offices in New York. During that time Hamas was firing daily barrages into Sderot while the Israeli government under a beleaguered Ehud Olmert did nothing.
 
We had hoped to inspire a change of attitude on the part of JNF officials and impel them to openly urge Israeli leaders to change course and protect their citizens. We were told it was not in their organizational mandate to get involved in Israeli politics.
 
Tsafrir implored the JNF officials to “be on our side” because Israeli public opinion was steadily moving to the right. He insisted that “the State of Israel was fighting against the Land of Israel” and begged the JNF to take a stand in defense of all of Israel, including Judea and Samaria. But he was politely rebuffed and told the JNF wished to remain a “positive” organization dedicated to planting trees and saving the Negev.
 
Tsafrir’s words ring prophetic today. Though the JNF does some wonderful work, I doubt many trees are being planted in the troubled southern region of Israel. And the JNF certainly must be having a hard time luring people to the Negev, what with the still imminent threat of rocket barrages from Gaza.
 
Ironically, Tsafrir died on the eve of Israel’s defensive operations in Gaza. And while everyone was shocked at his sudden death, I wonder whether the stress of committing himself entirely to an ideal, only to see that ideal denigrated by most of those around him, may have contributed to his demise.
 
            Not all Jewish heroes become disillusioned, nor are all hindered in their quests. But it seems nearly impossible to live a life in the constant face of bitter realities without those realities following one like an unwanted shadow. Jewish heroes, driven by a passion to fight the uphill battle for Jewish survival, are heroes precisely because they have to fight. And for many of them there seems to be a price to be paid.
 

There are few among us who can claim such fierce dedication, undeterred by obstacles or personal distractions. For we mere mortals unable to put aside our daily responsibilities in the pursuit of a just cause, these heroes serve as an inspiration to engage in that cause when our lives do allow for it.

 

Sara Lehmann is a freelance writer and editor living in Brooklyn with her husband and children. 

About the Author: Sara Lehmann, a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, was formerly an editor at a major New York publishing house.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Heroes And Those They Inspire”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Ben Gurion Airport
BREAKING: FAA Extends Ban on US Flights to Israel
Latest Indepth Stories

Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.

So on the one hand Secretary Kerry makes no bones about who is at fault for the current hostilities: he clearly blames Hamas.

King Solomon said it long ago: “Cast your bread upon the waters” because you don’t know when you’ll hit something. Our job is to do.

The anti-Israel camp does not need to win America fully to its side. Merely to neutralize it would radically alter the balance of power and put Israel in great jeopardy.

We mourn the dead, wish a speedy recovery to the wounded, and pray that God guides the government.

Charges from the court of world public opinion and their refutations.

It is up to our government to ensure that their sacrifices were not made for short-term gains.

Supporting Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, has become dangerous in Malmo.

Proportionality Doctrine:The greater the military gain the greater the justifiable collateral damage

Regional pro-US Arab countries rely on Israel as a deterrence to rogue Islamic regimes.

He has always supported the underdog, once even quite literally, legislating a law that prohibits the abandonment of pets.

Temech is about providing a community – a place where religious women can learn, collaborate and refresh themselves with like-minded people.

Netanyahu has decided that the lives of Israeli are more important than looking good for Obama, U.N. and the NY Times.

More Articles from Sara Lehmann

Like all patriotic Americans, I cheered implementation of the Bush Doctrine to preemptively protect American lives from the perceived threat of WMD.

Though the school district eventually pulled the assignment after coming under pressure, the fact that an American school would ask its students to debate whether the Holocaust was “merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain” is both astounding and frightening.

It is not the role of schools or government to make people feel good about themselves. Self-esteem comes with productivity, not in the absence of it.

Despite the exodus thousands of years ago and our break from the ghettos hundreds of years ago, the slave mentality follows us like a long shadow.

While Brooklyn College is famed for its plethora of Jewish professors and students, it is not a Jewish institution. The 92nd Street Y is. According to its own mission and history statement, it’s “a proudly Jewish institution since its inception.”

In a recent tirade on a public radio station in Albany, Governor Cuomo lambasted New York conservatives in one broad stroke. While lashing out against New Yorkers who oppose his SAFE Act, a draconian gun-control bill rammed through the New York legislature soon after the Newtown massacre, Cuomo targeted all Republicans and conservatives as the enemy.

Proud as I am of my daughter’s enthusiasm and her proclivity for outreach, I somehow can’t shake a niggling regret that it had to be in Germany. As the daughter of a Hungarian mother who escaped deportation by running with her family from the Nazis and the daughter-in-law of a Dutch Jewish man whose parents were shot by the Nazis and who was liberated from Bergen Belsen at the age of 12, I am one generation closer to the Holocaust than my daughter. And one degree closer to the idea of shunning anything and everything German.

Only 26 years ago, 250,000 Jews demonstrated on the National Mall in Washington. It was an unprecedented display of solidarity with Soviet Jewry and played a significant role in facilitating the release of Soviet Jews. The demonstrators were Jews of all stripes and from all across America, Orthodox and non-Orthodox. I know, because as a young student I was there.

    Latest Poll

    Israel's Iron Dome Anti-Missile System:





    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/heroes-and-those-they-inspire/2009/01/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: