Not too many families can say they had the opportunity to spend a day during Chol Hamoed at the White House. Even fewer people can say they had the chance to go bowling in the White House, with a few surprise guests! A group of Chai Lifeline children did both during an eventful Tuesday Chol Hamoed Sukkot trip.
Our day at the White House began with a private tour of the East Wing. Joining us on the tour was Dr. Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, a former presidential candidate and a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon. Dr. Carson spoke to our group about the power of positive thinking, and how “keeping your heads up and always ‘thinking pink’ does wonders for the body.” After the tour and the meeting with Secretary Carson and lunch break at a local kosher restaurant, we moved on to visit the National Museum of Natural History.
As if the day wasn’t exciting enough until this point, the next part of our day was truly the experience of a lifetime: we were heading back to the White House for bowling at the Harry S. Truman Bowling Alley in the White House. And as if bowling in the White House wasn’t enough, the children were surprised by a visit from Ivanka and Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law.
As I watched the children of Chai Lifeline interact with Jared and Ivanka, their faces beaming, with smiles extended from ear to ear, I couldn’t help but think about the humanity of the moment. A tear rolled down my cheek as I watched all political, religious and socio-economic barriers come crumbling down in the face of human connection and a deep appreciation for one another. Children who hadn’t smiled in months (or even longer) now couldn’t remove the smiles from their faces. Children who had recently experienced an unimaginable amount of pain were now having the experience of a lifetime. Jared and Ivanka’s warmth and compassion were overwhelming as they literally changed the lives of these children right before my eyes.
In the current political, religious and social climate of increased polarization in our community, throughout the United States and around the world, it is so easy to get caught up in that which divides us from one another. However, what I learned from this experience in the White House was the need to focus on that which unites us and brings us closer together. It behooves us to create our own “moments of humanity,” opportunities to touch the lives of others, irrespective of one’s own affiliations or the affiliations of others.
I would like to personally thank Jared, Ivanka and the many members of the White House staff (many of whom would like to remain anonymous) for giving the children of Chai Lifeline an experience they will never forget, and for showing me what humanity is really all about.
By Avi Rosalimsky