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My Week in Israel

Malka (far right) with Solidarity Mission volunteers

After October 7, we were all overwhelmed, in pain. It was a moment in time that changed everything that we knew, reminding us of the fragility of life and the importance of standing together in times of crisis. I was so moved by the solidarity, love and concern I started to see in our community. On October 8, our community came together, always reaching out asking, ‘How can we help? How can we support Israel? What can we do?’

Our goal, as the Israel Center, is to be the living bridge to Israel, to stay relevant, meaningful, and be a resource and platform for our community and their connection to Israel. We realized that this is a critical moment in time, when we have to act, in a fast and meaningful way. That understanding led us to start exploring the option of having a volunteer and solidarity mission to Israel in March. When we were sharing this idea with people, I remember they were asking us if we meant March next year. Missions are usually planned at least one year in advance. But in our new reality, where everything is uncertain and fragile, we had to do the impossible – stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel now! Not necessarily at the most convenient time, but in a time of need. And I think that might be the core of our mission – making the impossible- possible.

So, we started working nonstop to make this impossible idea happen. Thanks to JPSA and the generosity of our amazing community, we got sponsors to help us fund this mission, and thanks to “The Israeli Experience” of the Jewish Agency for Israel, we were able to organize a short but meaningful mission. We agreed that our goals are to connect with the people of Israel during this critical time, witness firsthand the current reality of Israel and Israelis, volunteer, and witness the impact of our community’s fundraising efforts on the ground.

In less than 2 months, we gathered a small yet incredibly dedicated group of people who decided to fly to Israel, despite the ongoing war, to show their solidarity, bear witness and volunteer hands on.

I personally, hadn’t been to Israel since October 7. Even when being far away from home was almost unbearable, I knew that I have to do anything to support the Jewish community here in Tucson, focusing my role as a Shlicha and doing everything I can to bring Israeli voices and stories from this current war.

Leading this solidarity mission to my homeland with such an incredible group of people was a profound privilege for me as an Israeli. I was deeply moved by the kindness and the open heart our community showed from the first day of this war, and especially when we began recruiting members for our mission. Experiencing a different side of Israel alongside my extended family was truly unforgettable. Witnessing the nobility and resilience of the Israeli people during these challenging times filled me with immense pride, despite the pain and sorrow all around.

During our week in Israel, I had moments that will stay with me forever. One of them was when we read the Kadish on the holy ground of the Nova festival. A ground where we lost so many precious lives. We stood together, feeling the pain of loss, but also feeling the unity of our family.

Following that moment, I shared with our group the deep personal nature of our mission, explaining that it’s okay to feel the weight of our emotions without apologizing. This journey is our story, our family, our people. Our duty now is to stand in solidarity, bear witness, and assure our family in Israel that they are not alone. It is our collective responsibility to craft a new chapter in our Jewish and Israeli narrative, together.

On the first day, I wrote in my notebook:

“In this historic moment,
When we’re not who we once were,
we are writing who we will be.
And if we shall write,
let it be with honesty, courage, and grace,
let it be together,
with hope guiding our way.”