An Israeli Shabbat in Jerusalem

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

“Heroism, determination and loyalty are values not only for soldiers, but for all human beings, including you and your students” Alon Wald

The JNF Australia Study Tour delegation experienced a magical Friday night in Jerusalem, and at the conclusion of Shabbat paid a visit to Ammunition Hill, which commemorates the battle for Jerusalem during the Six Day War.

The Jewish Sabbath begins on Friday at sunset. The JNF Australia Educators Study tour participants immersed themselves fully in the experience, ushering in the Sabbath dressed in white.
Some of the participants hurried to light the Shabbat candles on time, accompanied by private prayers, while others walked on that overcast Friday evening to a synagogue in the Yemin Moshe neighborhood and to the Western Wall, to pray and to familiarize themselves with local customs on this special day.

In the evening, everyone gathered for a tish [Yiddish: lit. a table, fig. a Friday night gathering, where they sang Shabbat songs and shared personal experiences and stories.

Sar-Shalom Djerbi, Director of KKL-JNF’s Education and Community Division, spent Shabbat together with the delegation. He recounted biblical stories and the weekly Torah portion, showing their universal relevance in terms of how human beings relate to each other and how they relate to God.

At the conclusion of the Sabbath at nightfall on Saturday, the delegation travelled to Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill, in order to understand the Israeli spirit of courage and determination. This heritage site, which commemorates the battle for Jerusalem during the Six Day War, has become a symbol of the heroism and determination of Israel’s soldiers. KKL-JNF develops and maintains this site with the support of its friends worldwide, including in Australia.

Ammunition Hill was a fortified Jordanian military outpost on the western slopes of Mount Scopus. Israeli Army paratroopers conquered the hill in a bloody battle fought in bunkers and trenches. Thirty-six Israeli paratroopers fell in battle, along with 70 Jordanian soldiers.

The Australian educators walked through the trenches and bunkers and saw the remains of the armored vehicles and tanks. Through the multimedia displays at the adjacent museum, they learned about the historical events of preceding the Six Day War and personal experiences of soldiers who fought in the battles. At the memorial wall, they paid tribute to the memory of the fallen.

The educators met Alon Wald, a member of the Ammunition Hill directorate. Rami Wald, his father, fell in this battle when Alan was less than a year old.

“Heroism, determination and loyalty are values not only for soldiers, but for all human beings, including you and your students,” Wald said to the teachers. “You don’t have to wait for a war to be a hero. Believe in yourselves and you can make history.”

Stephanie Levy from the Carmel School in Perth was especially moved by his personal story. “My goal is to impart his exact message to my students,” she said. “To speak to the children from the soul, and to give each and every one of them the feeling that they can do amazing things. This is true learning.”

“The transition from sadness to joy is something very familiar to Israeli society,” said Yigal Nisell, KKL-JNF Educational Emissary to Australia. “In fact, this is the secret of our success – always look ahead.” And this was the sign to begin rejoicing with music, song and dance, including Israeli folk dances, with which the moving evening was concluded.