The Buffalo MOMentum group just started their trip in Israel. Here is the first update – written by Merredith Meyers Levin and Rachel Brownstein:
Shalom from Israel! What an adventure & we’re only on day one! Our morning began by being welcomed into Orot Hesed Food Bank in Akko. There we met Dudu, a former military man who has devoted his retirement to helping others & giving back to his community. His english was non-existent but we pieced together our mission for the morning & packed food boxes for 296 families; assembly line style. Each box cost 39 NIS (New Israeli Shekels) and are sponsored from monetary donations from the United States.
After a round of high fives & a taste of some delicious Israeli citrus, we hopped on a bus to the Ghetto Fighters Kibbutz. This Kibbutz was established by survivors from the Warsaw Ghetto post World War II. There we visited the Shop for Meaning which is run by Kivunim where they mainstream developmentally disabled young adults & help them learn how to independently succeed in society. We were able to purchase crafts & wares from the talented young men & women who are thriving as a result of Kivunim. Our group also toured the Yad Leyeled which is a Children’s Museum founded by child survivors of the Holocaust in the mid-1950’s. This amazing center is funded exclusively by donations and has never received government funds. Our generous Kibbutz hosts served us lunch in their cafeteria while we waited out a quick rain storm.
Our afternoon brought us to the Galilee Medical Center. This is a state-of-the-art medical facility located in close proximity to Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. The hospital’s main area of expertise is trauma: IDF soldiers, Israeli civilians, UN personnel, and civilians from neighboring Arab countries. They have an underground hospital where they can treat patients in the event of chemical or physical warfare. Their motto is Adom v’adom l’adom (a person is a person to a person). Pretty amazing how Jews & Arabs are treated equally in the Western Galilee region.
We traveled out of Akko & found ourselves in the Mediterranean area of Rosh HaNikra, the north-west most point of Israel closest to Lebanon. We paused right below the new border wall that was built a few years ago. We cable-carred down to the base of the naturally formed grottos made from the impact of the Mediterranean against the chalkstone cliffs. The view took our breath away! (But it didn’t prevent us from an impromptu round of singing Oseh Shalom where our voices echoed through the chalkstone caves!)
Dinner (yes more food!) was kicked off with a string quartet performance featuring musicians from Fort Worth, Budapest, Omaha & BUFFALO (Robbie Hausmann from the Buffalo Philharmonic on cello)!! Speakers included dinner with “Women Leading a Dialogue” & young adults from a partnership of Arab & Israeli women. We capped of the night singing John Lennon’s Imagine in Hebrew – in Arabic – and in English. Not a dry eye in the house! We’re beyond lucky to be side by side amazing women from around the world working together to each our children that we’re all ONE people.