For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
Forty years ago this Christmas eve, five small boats showing almost no lights slipped out of Cherbourg harbor into the teeth of a Force 9 gale which kept even large freighters from venturing out.
Built for the Israel Navy, the vessels had been embargoed at the beginning of the year by French president Charles de Gaulle. Their empty berths on Christmas Day and the absence of any announcement about the embargo's termination prompted media inquiries, which failed to elicit convincing explanations. "Where are they?" asked a banner headline in a local newspaper.
In the news doldrums of the holiday season, the international media scented an outlandish story: Had Israel stolen back its own boats? A television team flew out over the North Sea to see if the boats were headed for Norway, to which they had ostensibly been sold; others flew out over the Mediterranean.
The boats were indeed on the run. Battered by towering waves as they crossed the Bay of Biscay, they dropped anchor in a Portuguese cove alongside an Israeli freighter fitted out as a refueling ship, one of several support vessels deployed along the 5,150-km. escape route. When the boats entered the Mediterranean, British maritime monitors on Gibraltar signaled "What ship?" A Lloyd's helicopter circled the silent vessels but saw no identity numbers or flags. The British monitors, guessing the boats' destination from the media reports, flashed "bon voyage" in salute to Nelsonian flair.
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"