web analytics
October 31, 2014 / 7 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



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
Yehudah Glick on the Temple Mount.
Yehuda Glick’s Condition Stabilizing, “He Was Very Lucky” (1:00 PM)
Latest Indepth Stories
Which glass has the poison?

The White House wanted to defame Netanyahu, undermine his reputation, impugn him & his policies

Adolf Hitler and the representative of the Palestinian Arabs, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, December, 1941.

Palestinian anti-Semitism in 2014 is more extreme and mainstream than German A/S in the 1930s.

Sheldon Silver

Woven deeply through it all is the Jewish obligation to fight injustice.

Cravatts-Richard--new

Only in the inverted world of academia would Jewish professors denounce the AMCHA Initiative report.

Many poskim were and are adamant about the responsibility of every individual to vote.

Individuals who may have been abused are the “clients” in need and receiving care and protection.

An accomplished Torah scholar and ardent adherent of Bobov chassidus, he was renowned for his self-effacing dedication and skills as an international lawyer and law professor

The fact that the United States government after World War II sought to take advantage of the expertise of German scientists, even those known to have contributed to the Nazi war effort, is well known and largely accepted as having been necessary for America’s national defense. (Wernher von Braun is perhaps the most famous and […]

The New York State comptroller manages the state’s $180.7 billion pension fund, audits the spending practices of all state agencies and local governments, oversees the New York State and Local Retirement System, reviews the New York State and City budgets, and approves billions in State contracts and spending.

Rabinovich is the author of several popular books on Israel’s wars, including The Battle for Jerusalem, The Yom Kippur War, and The Boats of Cherbourg.

To say he was beloved because of the way he loved his students does not sufficiently capture the reality.

The birth I speak about is to give birth to ourselves, to our full potential.

The extreme hypocrisy, contempt & vulgarity of the attacks indicate more than a policy disagreement

More Articles from Sara Lehmann

In the fury and flurry of publicity surrounding the Klinghoffer opera, another musical affront to Jews almost went unnoticed.

Charles Krauthammer

You’re not going to change public opinion. The media are so biased you can’t get your story through. But what counts is America.

I understand how two governments can negotiate a ceasefire, but terrorists by definition are not playing by the same rules as you are.

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.”

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: