Arrived in Tel Aviv Sunday evening, December 3. Our driver, now 24 years old, was born in Ukraine and came to Israel when he was 3 months old. His grandmother, so tired of antisemitism so prevalent there for centuries, said, when the opportunity came to go to Israel, “I am going. You can come with me or not, but I am going.” Her family followed her.
As we drove the 2-hour drive to the Dead Sea, something so unusual caught my eye. On both sides of the highway, cars were parked parallel to the road, one very close to another, for about a quarter of a mile.
I asked, “What happened?”
Sergiy, our driver, said, “Oh, that’s an army base over there. Those are the cars of reservists called up for duty. And there is not enough room inside the base to park.”
Israel now has 350,000 reservists called into active duty.
Sergiy’s unit is next to be called up if needed. He hopes to be called soon for more than one reason.
For one, he drives small groups through the Land.
On October 6, two friends called and asked him to go with them to the festival on the Gaza border. He declined because he had a client—a New York rabbi—who had told him about the Ezekiel 38–39 war.
One of his two friends was shot in the leg.
We were his first job since October 7. He wants to be called up because the government pays the reservists their normal salary or monthly income. Of course, he loves his country, but he also needs to “make ends meet.”
Our Salt Sea Hotel
I have been coming to this same hotel for many years to take advantage of the sun for my skin. So I know very well Elkanah, who works at the desk.
He smiled broadly when he recognized me. He said, “It’s so good to see a smile.”
He lives in Dimona. There was no terrorist activity there on October 7. But he has friends who lived in Gaza. He knows some of the hostages. He said he had a panic attack two days later.
Changes at the Hotel
The rooms are so familiar. But everything else has changed. My son Terry, my daughter Shelli, and I are the only tourists.
Everyone in this hotel has been evacuated from Sderot, a town less than a mile from Gaza.
I spoke to one young mother tonight (Monday) at dinner. She has five children, ranging in age from 6 months to 11 years old. She said, “It is hard. Very hard. For years, rocket after rocket.”
I had a question I chose not to ask. I see many young women with children here. I think their husbands must be at war.
Up the hill, in the David Hotel (formerly the Hyatt), the evacuees from Be’eri (a kibbutz about three miles from the Gaza border). The terrorists broke through the fences there early on October 7.
In the liberation of Jerusalem in 1917, the British and ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) broke through at Be’eri to defeat the Ottoman forces.
Our Solidarity Tour is scheduled to visit Be’eri.
The people here at our hotel are quiet. Sober. But the sound of the laughter of playing children tells the story of how the Jews have survived and continue to do so. It reminds me of what God said through Jeremiah, “I know the plan and future I have for you.”
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