April 12, 2024
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April 12, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

A Poignant Briefing on a Recent Visit to Israel

Each time one of our own returns from a personal or organized mission to Israel these days they bring with them stories of bravery, heartache, resilience and hope that we in the U.S. have difficulty comprehending. The strength of the people of Israel is beyond belief.

Our friend and neighbor Chaim Kiss and his wife, Carole, recently completed such a journey.

Listening to Chaim’s enthusiasm for his love of Israel and its people was beautifully poignant.

From the moment the couple arrived in Israel, it was nonstop hours of performing acts of chesed in any way they could. Interestingly, distributing the many letters from school children in our area brought the most joy and excitement. He showed me a video of a chayal who hangs each letter he receives on the walls of his barracks. Chaim met a young woman who was going to spend some time in Jenin, and she insisted on bringing some of the locally written letters with her to give to Jewish children there. On video, I watched a group of these children holding up the letters and saying “Shalom” and “Thank you, Teaneck, New Jersey.”

Visiting Tel HaShomer amidst the worry and pain, Chaim also experienced singing and dancing and saw local students’ signs hanging on the walls.

Chaim attended a bar mitzvah at Aish HaTorah for 10 boys, and a bat mitzvah for, whose families had been displaced. Whereas normally they would have had their friends and neighbors attending their smachot, here they had people from every walk of life celebrating with them. Nothing seems to stop Israelis from celebrating, despite the traumatic events they are experiencing.

They visited two shiva houses together with Rabbi Elliot Schrier, and as has been found frequently, the situation in so many of these cases is that the mourners are so grateful to the people who visit from chutz la’Aretz that they end up giving the visitors a touch of their resilience, often dispelling the nervousness and discomfort the Americans felt entering their homes.

He had an experience one day when five sifrei Torah were donated to the Kotel. Families of the hostages were present, together with Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, and many had the privilege of writing letters in the newly prepared Torahs, as did Chaim.

As he expressed, it is difficult to leave Israel and he is already looking forward to a return visit.


Nina Glick can be reached at [email protected].

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