Thought I might share this broadcast with you today.Radio Manchester Thought for the Week,Sunday July 30th
‘All the World’s a Stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances.’I feel a bit like that. For very soon, I’ll be leaving this country, which gave my parents a haven after the Holocaust, in order to emigrate to Haifa in Northern Israel. Yes, that same Haifa that you will have heard about in the news.Why emigrate? Because, for many Jews there’s always been a pull towards Israel. From a religious perspective, if you are able to emigrate to Israel (known in Hebrew, as Aliyah, or ascent), you should. But in the past, there were mainly two groups of people who did so: the very young, just embarking on adult life, and the retired, who wanted to enjoy their last years in the Promised Land.But, increasingly, the in-between groups are also packing up and leaving. Just last Tuesday, for instance, 650 French people of all ages arrived in Israel.And in August, similar groups will be arriving from Britain, Canada and the United States.From our own synagogue here in Manchester, last year maybe two or three families emigrated to Israel. This year, it’s more like ten, including some in their prime, who say they want a better life for their children.But why am I going, when my own children have grown up and flown the nest. I like it here in Manchester, love English weather (when it isn’t too hot) and my husband is having to stay in Britain at the moment, which will be the greatest sacrifice of all.Let me try and explain. In the Bible, God says to Abraham, Lech lecha. Which means, 'Get out of your land; from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you'.But the Hebrew Lech lecha actually means ‘Go into yourself, for your own benefit, for your own good’.Whatever things seem like, in the long run the right thing to do is to live in Israel. And later on, in the Book of Exodus, when Moses is trying to drag the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land, the children of Israel complain that they will miss the flesh pots of Egypt. So God gave the children of Israel special food, called manna from heaven instead.And later on, in the Book of Numbers, the same children of Israel weep as they remember the meat, the fish that doesn’t cost a penny, the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic, that was their normal fare in Egypt. (And one of my favourite meals, as it happens). And then, once again, manna comes to their rescue on their desert voyage.We take this to mean that comforts are in the eye of the beholder and it is easy to be enticed by luxury when there is still real work to do.So, let us all hope and pray that soon, very soon, the destruction and devastation will end. And that the missiles raining down at the moment will cease and life will slowly get back to normal again.From a personal point of view, it is of great comfort to realise that so many people who are not Jewish but Christian have written to me, knowing that I am leaving, and asked me to reconsider and stay here at the moment. Even more remarkable are the one or two journalists, hard-nosed and used to reporting from war zones and to risking their own lives, daily, who have taken the trouble to urge me to put my own safety first.And they have done this tactfully, using the great British tools of irony and understatement, two traists that I shall definitely miss once I’m gone.But then, on the other hand, there have been all the Israeli voices urging me to come nevertheless and telling me that they will look after me. But on Thursday night, I spoke to my friend, Yoline, who works in the office of the Mayor of Haifa. And she has moved further south, out of the immediate danger zone. And she had reflected on the situation and concluded that at the moment it would be better to remain in Britain for a couple of weeks and try to raise funds for those whose lives, homes and businesses have been ruined in the past two and a half weeks.So, I’ve taken her advice and I know that all my non-Jewish friends are relieved and probably the Jewish ones too. But I hope that this will be only a temporary respite.And to all those I have known for over fifty years, whatever your religion, race, or ethnic background, I would say the following. Please come and visit my little corner of Israel when the war is over. For I still firmly believe that Jewish values stand for something and that we can rebuild this area once again and make it safe for everyone from the world to visit. For, as my Israeli friend, Dory, has put it:‘The reason I am in Israel is because I feel I have to place and cement my little brick in the construction of this country. For it to be a refuge for Jews in bad times, but also so that we have our little corner on earth.’And I don’t think anyone can put it better than that.