Opinion: I will return to Israel | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Opinion: I will return to Israel

I have lived a good life and am now a retired guy with extra time on my hands. These days I devote much of my time to volunteer work; one specifically, the Jewish National Fund Water Task Force.  

Relying on my expertise in water, hydraulics and pumps, I have visited Israel on frequent “water missions” concentrating on the areas of the Gaza envelope, the Arava and the Upper Galilee. Our work and donations help them develop and expand their water recycling, storage and irrigation infrastructure with the goal of encouraging more Israeli families to move to these areas and stay. I was looking forward to leaving for Israel Oct. 26, visiting those areas again, and seeing old friends. Due to the events of Oct. 7, a day in Israel that shall live in infamy, that won’t be happening any time soon. 

Every day, the JNF holds a Zoom meeting update. It was painful and heartbreaking to see an old friend bawl her eyeballs out because family and life-long friends were shot, butchered, and mutilated in ways that can hardly be described. This attack by Hamas in the Gaza envelope was not your garden variety “demonstration” as in “Fiddler on the Roof.” This was an organized full-blown Jew killing rampage of extermination not seen since the Nazi Einsatzgruppen followed the German Army into Russia in July of 1941. Enter a village and round up the Jews. Kill the men; kill the women; kill the old; kill the young; kill the babies. Kill them all without remorse until the village is “Judenfrei” (free of Jews). Move on to the next village and repeat. Well, the days of killing Israelis and Jews with no consequences are over. Make no mistake. When the Israelis say that they will hunt down and kill every last member of Hamas, count on it. Without remorse. 

The generations of our fathers and grandfathers were eyewitnesses to the Nazi atrocities. They knew what to do. Kill the Nazis and the leaders who convinced a nation that the Jews deserved to die just because they were Jews. They killed them without remorse. Unfortunately, the people of that generation are dying away along with their collective memories. They have been replaced by those with an ignorance of history (at best) or by those with an amorality willing to accept, condone, and even celebrate these latest atrocities. No amount of “social injustice” justifies this, or any, pogrom. 

One day this war will end, and one day, I will return to Israel to help the JNF rebuild that which has been destroyed. New “pioneers” will rebuild the homes, the villages, the reservoirs, the orchards and fields of crops; however, nothing will ever replace the lives and futures that have been lost. Meanwhile, pray for Israel, pray for the young men and women in the IDF, and pray for our own souls that G-d will forgive us for allowing this to happen again. 

* * *

Rich Hacker, Mukwonago, is a member of both Chabad of Waukesha-Brookfield and Congregation Emanu-El of Waukesha. Hacker is an engineering graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, (retired) chairman of the board of an engineering and manufacturing company in Mukwonago, and the Midwest representative to the Water Task Force of the Jewish National Fund-USA.