Dear Friends – Chaverim Yekarim, Shalom:
It’s the drama around us this Pesach that brings me to write you today. It seems like our core ideals are being challenged, and our voice must be heard.
As you know, Yemin Orde was there from the beginning, reaching out to young asylum seekers over a decade ago. When our government finally stepped out with an announcement that settles and heals this open wound in our society, we felt so relieved. For us, these human beings have names and faces, and some of them are graduates that we are very proud of. From an educational point of view, their inclusion in the human tapestry of our village was a win-win move, expanding the self-perception of the young that we raise.
Inclusiveness has always been our banner, as Leo Baeck Congregation’s Rabbi, Na’ama Dafni-Kellen, attested to in a Haifa newspaper last week. Rabbi Dafni-Kellen, who volunteered at Yemin Orde in the 1990s, spoke of the village as “a magical , wonderful and value-laden place”, remarking that it was her first exposure to “Judaism that fights racism and respects each and every human being.”
Indeed, we maintain that being sensitive to the plight of our guest citizens is not a sign of weakness, but of strength, not to mention that is aligns with the Torah’s repeated warnings to uphold this commitment.
Our graduates, who embody our values in their lives and activities, are also spreading the word.
As a matter of fact, I’ve met quite a few of them over this holiday, the most recent one being David Blanko (’48), who had arrived to us from the streets of Madrid. David, who because of his family background was almost destined to become a lawbreaker in his homeland, is now a successful family man, who summarizes the impact the village had on him with “They taught me I am worthy.” Having served in the IDF’s Alpine Unit, David derives his greatest pleasure from volunteering as a ski instructor to blind IDF veterans. “It makes me the happiest man in the world to teach them to do the impossible – navigate their movement in the snow – while I am there to help and ensure their safety.”
It brings to my mind the words of Isaiah (42:18) – “…and the blind shall see.” Nothing is impossible!
As the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel draws near, we remain strong and firm in our commitment to instill our shared values in the young generation and its educators. Our hope for the future is not merely wishful thinking, but something that we fight for every day. You, who have invested so much work, resources and love in our joint mission, can rest assured that we will continue to create influential educational hubs that are a microcosm of the ultimate Jewish Homeland – the upright society that our Prophets had envisioned.
Even if at times that means walking against the currents, we are not alone.