What Gives Me Hope

December 15, 2023

I’m writing this to you from Israel, where a Sheba Mission of volunteers is the largest group to visit Israel since the war started.

I have been to Israel during both Intifadas, the Gulf War and other conflicts. I don’t remember the country feeling so heavy and sad as it does right now.

Everywhere you go there is a reminder of the hostages and the losses.

Traveling with the group to see the destruction and devastation in Kfar Aza was unlike any experience in my life and a mute testament to the horrors of Oct. 7 and since. Almost 10% of the kibbutz was killed or taken hostage.

Meeting with hostage families was devastating. And left us all vowing not to let them be forgotten.

But what left me with hope and inspiration was meeting with recovering soldiers and civilians at Sheba Medical Center.

You may have read the story of Ben and Gali in a previous newsletter. A couple at the music festival, they each lost a leg to a grenade. But they are now engaged, sharing a room at Sheba, and determined to walk down the aisle together at their wedding in June.

The soldier who lost his eyesight to an explosion but stood in front of the President of Israel Isaac Herzog and lit a Hannukiah, and is determined to work through his new disability.

The determination and resolve of the patients, the love and the skill of the caregivers at Sheba, all give me hope for Israel when this darkness passes.

The path ahead for each of them and for all of Israel is a narrow bridge strewn with obstacles. But they and we will prevail. While we were on the Sheba campus a helicopter landed with five casualties from Gaza. Just as all of Israel freezes in place on their Memorial Day, suddenly people froze, tears welled in the eyes of most. I learned that just the sound of the arriving helicopter shakes the 10,000 employees. They know someone’s son has been critically injured. And it might be their own. But in that shared fear and shared pain, is shared strength and unity and determination. For that reason alone, Israel will prevail.

And if you want to see this all for yourself, we are sending another Friends of Healing volunteer mission January 14-18.You can go here for more information.

Am Yisrael Chai.


PS: This Sunday on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Leslie Stahl interviews the head of Sheba’s Safra Children’s Hospital about the war, hostages and more. We believe it is the most in-depth coverage ever done by 60 Minutes of an Israeli hospital.

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