Shlicha's/Shaliach's View

Around the world, when rescue is needed, Israel is first to help

Oshrat Barel
Oshrat Barel

Line between life and death/ ­good and evil

Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu likes to draw lines, especially red ones, as he claimed at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee national conference earlier this month. What caught me in his speech, to a very welcoming audience, wasn’t the Iranian threat or boycott, divestment and sanctions movements, even though both are very important issues. It was the fact that he chose to open by discussing humanitarian aid that helpless Syrian civilians get from the “enemy” — from Israel. While Syrian leaders butcher civilians every day with the support of Iran — their ally — the only one who offers genuine, lifesaving support is Israel.

The fact is that Israel, this young tiny country in the Middle East, offers support all over the world. Whenever there is a catastrophe, the first rescue team often will be Israeli. Did we see Iranian rescue teams rushing to help Syrian civilians? I would love to hear about it.

This contrast drew a real line “between life and death, between right and wrong, between the blessings of a brilliant future and the curses of a dark past” — as was said by the prime minister.

Israeli culture

I don’t have too many regrets, but I badly regret that I didn’t reschedule a meeting with Eileen Warshaw of the Jewish History Museum while it was still possible. May she rest in peace!

I found this poem, a great Israeli classic by Chaim Nachman Bialik, appropriate to dedicate to Eileen’s beloved memory.

After My Death

Say this when you mourn for me:


There was a man — and look, he is no more.

He died before his time.

The music of his life suddenly stopped.

A pity! There was another song in him.

Now it is lost



A great pity! He had a violin,

a living, speaking soul

to which he uttered

the secrets of his heart,

making all its strings vibrate,

save one he kept inviolate.

Back and forth his supple fingers danced,

one string alone remained entranced

still unheard.


A pity!

All its life that string quivered

silently shook,

yearned for its song, its mate,

as a heart saddens before its fate.

Despite delay it waited daily

mutely beseeching its saviour lover

who lingered, loitered, tarried ever,

and did not come.


Great is the pain!

There was a man — and look, he is no more.

The music of his life suddenly stopped.

There was another song in him.

Now it is lost


Tucson’s Jewish-Muslim Peacewalk

I never dreamed of leading Hatikva in front of 200 Christians and Jews in a church, or doing so with my 10-year-old daughter, Ronnie. This was, for sure, one of the most moving, goose bump-inducing moments I’ve had here in Tucson.

Reaching out to the broader community of Tucson is interesting and crucial for the Jewish community and for me, personally. It gives me, as an Israeli, the rare opportunity to get to know and be exposed to other religions and to create or maintain dialogues with them.

This was the 10th anniversary of the Peacewalk in Tucson, but my first chance to participate. It was fascinating for me to hear different voices and points of view regarding the conflict in the Middle East.

The highlight for me again relates to my family, when I heard my daughter answer the question, “How does peace in the Middle East relate to your home?” To me, in Hebrew, she said, “I lost my grandfather in this conflict.” She told the crowd, “I wish I would be able to not be afraid of my neighbors” (referring to the Palestinians).

Weintraub Israel Center upcoming events

• April 22 — Mimuna, Moroccan traditional end-of-Passover celebration

• May 4 — Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day

• May 14 — Yom Ha’aztmaut, Israel 66 Celebration

The days between May 4 and 14 will include other Tucson Celebrates Israel events at local Jewish organizations, synagogues, and even a church.

For more information find us on Facebook or call the Weintraub Israel Center at 577-9393, ext. 132.

Oshrat Barel is Tucson’s community shlicha and director of the Weintraub Israel Center.