Photo Credit: Courtesy
Rabbi Chaim Sampson and Sivan Rahav-Meir.

IDF soldier Shalom Shitrit went up on stage with crutches last Sunday in New York and, in front of 1,000 Americans, spoke from the heart as follows:

“Shalom, I am from a Golani IDF unit, but here I feel that I am part of a unit called ‘the nation of Israel.’


“As you can see, I lost a leg. This happened on October 7th. Since then, I have been in rehabilitation, in surgery, but also on a journey. I had not previously been acquainted with the Jewish world and suddenly it came to my room in Tel HaShomer hospital.

“An enormous truth was revealed to me in that hospital room and I am not ready to forget it. All sectors of the nation were there, and not only from Israel. There were many groups of supporters from the United States and this inspired me. I therefore took a 12-hour flight to come to New York – even though this was not easy in my present condition – in order to ask you to continue with your important work.

“I spent an entire Shabbat with you, under the auspices of the Project Inspire organization. I heard about your plans to strengthen Jewish identity and pride and to empower Jewish youth throughout the United States with a sense of belonging. This spirit, this desire for unity, is the most rewarding gift I could receive. That we will not perceive each other as strangers. That we will succeed in resolving every dispute among us with wisdom and with love. Recent events have given us a wake-up call since we had fallen asleep. And now it is essential not to miss this opportunity to bring us together.

“The war is not over. I am fighting with you for the sake of millions of our brothers and sisters here in the United States who are tragically disappearing through assimilation. Reach out to them so they can be a part of our story too.

“I look back on our history and see that even during the Exodus from Egypt our people quarreled. In every generation we receive a message and a reminder to change how we relate to one another. And now the feeling of being part of a new family, with a new kind of love, has come over me. And for this I am glad to have sacrificed my right leg.”

Shalom stood on one leg. Opposite him, a thousand people stood on two legs and applauded.


Living Proof Of The Resilient Jewish Spirit

“How do we emerge from darkness into light?” This difficult question was asked by Rabbi Chaim Sampson, the host of a Project Inspire Shabbat event attended by more than a 1,000 people from all over the world. Among all the lectures and conversations on Shabbat, his answer to this question stood out.

“So how do we emerge from darkness into light?” Rabbi Sampson asked. “Today there is so much sadness and grieving. I want to tell you about a 5-year-old child who lost his parents in the Holocaust. He was forced to leave his beloved home and, together with his big brother, endured a slave labor camp, a concentration camp, a death march, hunger, cold, and daily horrors. At the age of 8 when the war ended, he was illiterate. Instead of going to school he had to move dead bodies at Buchenwald, and simply did not know how to read or write. He made aliyah by boat and when he arrived in Israel was immediately sent to a detention camp in Atlit.

What kind of future would you have envisioned for a child like this? Orphaned, abandoned, poor, without education, with unimaginable fears and traumas. I want to invite this child to the stage. He is already 87 years old. He is known as Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau. He rehabilitated himself and progressed in life. He married and raised a wonderful family. He was the Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Israel. He is the chairman of the Yad Vashem Council and one of the most famous spokesmen on Israel’s behalf and on behalf of the Jewish people throughout the world.

Let us hope that children from Be’eri, Sderot, and Kfar Aza can gain strength from his story. This is not only a personal story of Yisrael, the orphaned child. This is the story of the nation of Israel. We have living proof in our generation of the ability to emerge from disaster to rebirth. It is a great privilege to hear the story of Rabbi Lau, our story, especially during this time.” May everyone hear good news.

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin.

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Sivan Rahav-Meir is a popular Channel 12 News anchor, the host of a weekly radio show on Galei Tzahal, a columnist for Yediot Aharonot, and the author of “#Parasha.” Every day she shares short Torah thoughts to over 100,000 Israelis – both observant and not – via Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. Translation by Yehoshua Siskin.