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Israelis strengthened by MJF mission
March 1st, 2002
There are people who think that a tree receives its main nutrition from its roots. In truth, however, the tree, as well as all other plants, uses its roots to hold itself in the soil. While plants use their roots to find water and minerals, their main nutrition is produced through the process of photosynthesis. Take a tree with deep roots and place it in darkness and it will die.
In our short lives we have learned that this is also the case with people. On the surface it seems that their main nutrition comes from what passes through the mouth. But the truth is that for people as well, their main nutrition comes from the light and warmth they receive from their environment, something we call love.
And this is what you gave us in abundance in the four days we spent together on the Milwaukee Jewish Federation’s Together-B’Yachad Mission to Israel last month. It is difficult to believe that it was only four days; it seems much longer. We feel as though we really know one another. Perhaps this is the result of the great warmth and light, in other words the love, that we received in such great quantity.
Let me give you an example: These days we are afraid to travel to Jerusalem. We dare not go to the Western Wall. But together with you, here in our capital city, Jerusalem, enveloped by your warmth, light and care, we felt secure, protected and calm.
We know that you do not live in Israel. We also know that love has no borders. We would like to see you live here. But because we understand some of the reasons you prefer not to live here, we, of course, are not angry with you. But more than that, we know that our lives, here in Israel will be more secure through the knowledge that your light and warmth and care for Israel does not stop for a second.
The four days with you strengthened what is Jewish in us, strengthened what is Israeli in us and provided us with security and optimism.
And if we return to the tree, we see that the MJF’s symbol has a menorah from which leaves grow. And this is precisely what you did to us in these past four days: you grew leaves on our barren menorah and even flowers grow on it now. We in Israel will continue to be the roots that grip themselves into the soil; you will be the light and warmth that will enable us to grow.
We love you, we want to give you a big thankful hug for all that you do for Israel and for everything you have done for us.
We want to see you as our friends, we invite you to see our home in the north as your home, feel free to “jump in.”
Thank you, and we will see you next year in Jerusalem,
Yonatan and Hadassa Alter
Kibbutz Ashdot Ya’akov
Editor’s note: Yonatan and Hadassa Alter are residents of Milwaukee’s Partnership 2000 region of Sovev Kinneret. They spent several days with participants on the Milwaukee Jewish Federation’s Together-B’yachad Mission to Israel last month both in the region and as the group traveled to other parts of the country.