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.
The Talmud describes Jews as rachmanim b'nei rachmanim: a compassionate people who are sensitive to human suffering. They are unable to sit by and ignore the terrible drama of human misery. Instead, they get up and do something about it.
As the world learned the news about Haiti one Tuesday in January, the Israeli Defense Forces were already planning their response. By Friday they had already pitched camp in Haiti. I watched a handsome IDF officer explain the facilities that had been erected within 8 hours of landing after a 16-hour flight across the world. He described the distinct tents serving critically ill obstetric, neonatal and adult patients as well as the surgical operating theaters they had erected in so short a time. Having practiced critical care medicine for a decade myself, I could imagine clearly the amount of planning and infrastructure required. Somehow these structures had gone up overnight.
The IDF had sent an initial team of 220 soldiers and among them 120 medical personnel. They were already operating, treating, delivering care for the earthquake survivors as network cameras rolled. Their initial mission included 40 doctors, 20 paramedics and 24 nurses, as well as medics and medical technicians, all of whom report to IDF chief medical officer Brigadier General Nachman Ash. Over a third of the manpower was specifically called up out of reserve to serve this humanitarian mission.
Humbled, I wondered why we were not watching a Muslim officer also from the Middle East showing similar services flown in perhaps from somewhere in the Arab world? Why were elements from the Muslim world not evident in such emphatic force and at such speed. Imagine semi permanent hospitals flying the Saudi Arabian National Guard Insignia just as these IDF facilities bore their insignias.
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!"