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  • Tzipi Altman-Shafer and Laurie Biskowitz

Day 9: Har Herzl and Final Sessions

Today we visited Har Herzl (Mt. Herzl), the cemetery of Israeli soldiers and the leaders of the Jewish People. This is always a powerful and sad experience. We saw the graves of Shimon Peres, Theodore Herzl, and Yitzchak Rabin.

We saw a memorial to those who have been killed by terror attacks throughout the history of the State of Israel. Particularly poignant was that there is a lot of space for future names (G-d forbid). Seeing this monument days after the tragic attack in Pittsburgh was even more impactful.

We also saw a memorial to those who survived the Holocaust and then died in the War of Independence soon after coming to Israel. We heard this particularly poignant story: There was a man named Baruch who was the father of eight children. His parents, his wife, and seven of his children were murdered in the Holocaust. He and his one remaining son made Aliyah. His son fought in the War of Independence. When two soldiers came to his door, he knew what it meant, but he didn’t want to open the door so he could believe for a few moments that his son was still alive. At his son’s funeral, he began to sing Am Yisrael Chai (the People of Israel love). He danced and sang and no one could stop him. After 10 minutes he sat down and the funeral continued. Afterwards he was asked why he was singing and dancing. He explained that the rest of his family was dead and didn’t have a proper grave. This son fought for the Jewish People and now has a Jewish funeral. Baruch’s Family line would not continue, but because of his son’s sacrifice, the People of Israel would live on.

After Har Herzl, we had free time for lunch. Then we went to the afternoon session, which took place at the Primo Park Hotel. We arrived to find a lovely buffet of fruits, sweets, and coffee. The large room had many skylights, lovely vines along the walls and trees growing throughout the room. We felt as if we were outside. Letters to ourselves were composed and we completed the participant evaluation forms. There were many side discussions regarding what we did and did not do during the past eight days.

Adrienne gave a talk which reviewed six of the eight JWRP core Jewish values.

  1. Learning & Growth: Search for wisdom. Wisdom can give you perspective.

  2. Human Dignity: Everyone deserves respect.

  3. Peace & Wholeness in the Home: Shalom Bayit.

  4. Unity & Mutual Responsibility: We are all connected. Every Jew is your family.

  5. Courage: The decision that something else is more important than your fear. “Holy Chutzpah” when the intention is not self-serving.

  6. Faithfulness & Trust: There is an order. Just because you do not see it, does not mean it does not exist.

  7. Gratitude: Be generous. Raise your children to be givers. Givers are happy people.

We saw a fun video of the men’s trip. We did some personal goal setting. All the city leaders, including Dana and Tzipi, were honored by the room of participants with standing and yelling ovation. We were given an explanation of who generously paid for our amazing adventure. We were given the opportunity to make a donation to JWRP.


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