On a clear day in Gush Etzion, you can see for miles. And if you know the history of the region, you can feel its spirit in your bones. You drive along the highway, pass the different yishuvim, point out Yeshivat Har Etzion, fall silent where hundreds fell in the War of Independence and you hear the place crying out triumphantly, “Am Yisrael Chai.”
This year, the kids in Sderot gave instead of received. “The kids felt empowered. They were strong enough to help someone else.”
“At one base, a jeep drove up and a soldier said he couldn’t believe we were there. He told his commanding officer and the officer couldn’t believe it either. He had to see it with his own eyes. He asked if we could come to his outpost after and give out mishloach manot to his friends,” explained Stan Hillelsohn, chairman of the OU Israel Commission. “It was supposed to be an early day because we had only arrived in Israel that morning, but we went over there and the soldiers were singing and dancing.”
It took a gaggle of giggling grade 10 girls to prove, yet again, that Israel’s strength lies in its twin trusts.
“Welcome. Hashem is With You” reads a spray-painted wooden sign posted at the entrance to the army base at Gaza’s southernmost tip.