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Found and lost

Found and lost thumbnail
I’m not sure that you all know, but the majority of Israeli’s after their military service usually would go to travel the world for a few months.
The hotspots are usually south and Central America, Thailand and India area, some would go to Europe or North America, but the common thing between all of them is that it is usually a place where it is cheap to live so you could spend as much time traveling as you can.You get to meet new people, visit beautiful places and basically collect experiences, it is called the “big trip”.
Every parent knows that if it wasn’t enough for the past 2-3 years to have sleepless nights while their kid is in the military he is expecting a few more months now, while sometimes it is even harder because they are so far away, there is no internet connection sometimes, they go on long treks (Hikes), sometimes for weeks.
That leads me to the story that I don’t think was heard enough in the global Jewish media.
I believe you all heard about the earthquake in Nepal and the area, as I said, the far east is a place where a lot of Israelis go after their military service, means that the last week there was a lot of panic in a lot of Israeli families and friends knowing their loved ones might got hurt.
Even I, personally knew some of them. I followed to news updates at least 3 times a day and saw how the reports were pretty positive, telling how the number of Israelis who haven’t made contact went down every few hours or so, which feels like a big rock from your heart is falling and you feel better and better, and so it was from around 1,012 Israelis missing, to the hundreds, then to tens, then to 7, 3, and then 1.
This entire time, people share on Facebook and the media posts with names and lists, photos and requests by friends and families and even from people who travel and survived,”if someone heard, please let us know”, and so it went through Facebook and the media, a lot of people could release a sigh of relief.

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A successful journey never ends thumbnail
It’s past my deadline, but of course, I mean it’s never easy to say goodbye.
August 16th is a date that will be forever engraved in my memory, it’s the day I came to Mobile for the first time and started this huge and amazing experience, and it will be my last day in Mobile as well.
365 days, a whole year, in which I got to meet so many wonderful people, go inside their homes and kitchens and hopefully their hearts.
A whole year where I became a part of a family and felt so welcomed into it as well, in every other community I’ve been to I always felt that I like it better in my community.
It became my home, by all means.
The first time I noticed it, was when I was driving my car back from somewhere, I was driving on the bridge across the river, and just had this feeling that I’m safe now, or when you are on Airport Blvd. you just feel you’re home now, and you feel calmer.
Before joining the I.D.F I had some worries, I just felt like I want to be done with it already and start my life, I was always rushing to the next thing, the next chapter.
One night I had a conversation about it with someone very dear to me, he said “you keep trying the skip to the end, the end is known, enjoy the way”.
His words echo in my mind till this day and I truly try to live by that.
This past year is one of the most significant experiences I had in my life.
This place and you people will forever be in my heart and mind.
One of my favorite quotes is in Hebrew so I’ll translate:
“ A successful journey never ends, the miles do, but the time stays engraved in you, becomes a part of you, at the end of the journey I don’t feel as if I won, but grateful, like the road has passed through me and not like I’ve past through the road”.
I hope the meaning didn’t got lost in translation, I’m so happy our roads crossed.
Unfortunately it feels like a lot of the times conversations with people got cut in middle because of one reason or another. I would like to apologize for that and let you know that I would love to hear from you if you have any more questions or things you want to talk about with me, this is why I’m here!
So we have till the last week of May, and if not you can always email me to Aradlerner@gmail.com

Shalom Y’all.

Springtime in Israel

Springtime in Israel thumbnail

“A lot of Joy, Spring has come,
Passover is coming.”

This is a phrase from a very famous song in Hebrew. Of course, in Hebrew those lines rhyme: “Simcha raba, simcha raba, aviv hageea, pesach ba”.
Springtime in Israel is one of the most beautiful times. The grass is green; the flowers are flourishing; and the amazing weather brings out families to take advantage of vacations from work and school, to go for a nice hike, and to travel to places all over Israel. My family did this for many years. The age difference between me and my sister is the same as that between my 2 cousins, so we always enjoyed each other’s company.

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Reita Franco Memorial Film

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Our first “Reita Franco Memorial Film” was on Sunday, January 18th at Ahavas Chesed Synagogue. This tribute to Reita is not only for what she accomplished for the festival but for her spirit and friendship. Right from the beginning, Reita was involved with the Mobile Jewish Film Festival where she was almost single-handedly responsible for the financial well-being of our Jewish Film Festival.
She is greatly missed. For that reason, we will be designating one film each year as the “Reita Franco Memorial Film” which is underwritten by the Maisel and Bronstein families.
This year we began our tribute with a brunch at the Fort Conde Inn for our larger donors and Reita’s three sons and families invited to meet our special guest, Nancy Spielberg, producer of the film “Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air Force”.

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Chanukah in Israel

Shalom ya’ll.

This month I would like to tell you a little bit about Chanukah in Israel. The atmosphere is set pretty early (like Christmas is here in the United States). You see soofganiyot, the Chanukah donuts, round pastries (that indicates how you are going to look if you keep eating them) filled with jelly and covered with sugar, every place you go. The temptation is huge, and it is definitely worth it. Of course, in the past few years the soofganiyot have been upgraded and there are all sorts of fillings and toppings.

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My Time in the Military

On November 14th 2012, Israel has decided to take action and respond to the terror attacks committed by Hamas towards Israel soldiers and civilians, operation “Pillar of defense” officially started with the killing of Ahmed Jabari, chief of the Gaza military wing of Hamas.

At that time I was still a soldier with only 4 months left to the service, I was the battalion medic, along with my paramedic we were the commanders of all the medics in our battalion.
I was told there is an urgent meeting of all the officers with the commander of the battalion, (the head chief of the battalion), on this meeting he told us about the recent developments in the situation and that we need to get everyone ready and head to the borders for the option we go into Gaza, this includes a lot of preparations but also what we have been training for for a long time.
My paramedic started to call the soldiers from reserves, when I started to prepare all the medics in the battalions and check the equipment and taking out things from storage.
I remember that this entire time I had a lot of thoughts going on in my mind, I guess they were worries mainly, for my family, my friends, my soldiers. I was trying to keep myself busy in order to repress those thoughts, after about 4 hours me and my paramedic met in order to see what progress we made, she was sobbing, crying, she just came back from another meeting which they showed the operation plan for our battalion, “we’re going to be like ducks in a fire range over there” she said. And I will never forget, that’s when it hit me and made me think that we might actually die there, I hugged her and told her everything is going to be fine and she has nothing to worry about even though I had no idea what’s going to happen over there, when I saw the plans later I thought the same.

At 4 am our “Hummerboulnce” military hummer that is converted to ambulance stopped in the middle of nowhere, outside the Gaza strip, we get off and after about a minute we hear a siren goes off from a distance, the deputy to the head commander of the battalion who was there with me tells me to run to some sort of trench next to me, this downhill some kind of trench is my safe place for the following week.

We started to set up everything and slowly more forces joined us and more vehicles, tanks and supplies came as well.
The operation was going on for a week, when every day we were told this is the day we go in, and then they postpone the command for another 12 or 24 hours. One week doesn’t sound that bad but it is a lot when you are out there, and food is bad, cigarettes running out and you have nothing to do. But lovely families took the chance and came to where we are and brought home cooked meals, people donated candies, snacks, cigarettes (unfortunately it is a big deal when you are a soldier), and we had long conversations with each other, got to know people better, everyone were willing to help me to bring food, and share everything you have with others, we built and dug better trenches and used our creative mind using supplies we had in order to make our life more convenient.
One thing never came out from my head, every time I was talking to one of our reserve soldiers I asked him what’s it like in there? What is it like In Gaza? And they all said the same thing. “You’re not going to come out the same way you came in”

Some of them meant mentally some of them meant physically, one thing I do know for sure today, this experience had changed me, a lot, even though I was just outside, I guess you don’t have to go into Gaza to change who you are.