On January 15th through 18th, 2024, a group of 15 participants traveled to Israel for a solidarity mission with the Jewish Agency for Israel/Jewish Federations of North America, and Partnership2Gether (P2G).

 

Gulf Coast P2G steering committee member, Janet Hammer, represented Florida’s Gulf Coast. The below entries detail her experiences while traveling.

 

If you are interested in participating in future Partnership2Gether missions and programming, please contact MKaufman@JewishGulfCoast.org.

  • My friend Judy asks great questions. Should we be focused on all the small things that keep happening in our community? Are we missing the point when focus on being hyper-alert to local  threats? Can it make a difference if we are vigilant and speak out against antisemitism and anti Israel tactics?
     
    The questions keep multiplying.…
     
    As we try to put out each small fire are we getting distracted from the actual problems we are facing? Have we missed the proverbial boat? 
     
    Do we...
  • Yesterday I wrote about seeing time in a Jewish way. I realized I only scratched the surface of the idea, mentioning for one the general who described the current situation as “Biblical.” Traditional Judaism doesn’t have a problem with seeing things in a biblical perspective. It’s central to the metier of Jewish belief. But for us western assimilated “educated” Jews? We have as much trouble with “Biblical” time as we do with ideas of “Good and Evil,” don’t we?
    When we...
  • This morning Sam and I started to talk about how long the war has been going on, how long the hostages have been in captivity and  how Oct 7th was almost 140 days ago. All measurements of time. But time was been confounding for me since Oct 7th. Has it been only hours that became days and then weeks and now months? Or has time taken on biblical proportions where the days of creation actually were expressions of geologic epochs?
     
     
     
    The first hours after I heard the news of the Hamas...
  • Read it and weep. 
     
    Better yet wipe your tears and see the situation clearly for what it is.
     
    The terrorist cowards are playing hide and seek in costume! What creative cosplay they engage in. Or rather, what a destructive game. One day it’s a serial killer on an Israeli highway disguised as a religious Jew. The next day it’s “doctors” (this time truly without borders!) “innocently” carrying out their duties in a Gaza hospital  
  • OK you made me cry.
     
    My tears are not of sadness or despair. These are tears because I recognize the truth that children can express. My tears are also deeply personal because they remind me of a searing trauma that affected my own life. 
     
    Please watch this amazing video, which was forwarded to me by my dear friend Dina in Kfar Saba.
     
    It is a group of sixth graders from the Eshkol school, in the region of Israel that was brutally attacked by Hamas terrorists on Oct 7. 
     
    The ...
  • When I was in Israel everyone told me I am the one with the hardest job. 
     
    They explained….
     
    In Israel we know we are dealing with this enemy. 
     
    In the US people do not realize a ceasefire and “peace” mean totally different things when one is dealing with jihadists. 
     
    We need to not be lulled by dreams of peace when hostages remain in captivity and where there is an enemy sworn to our destruction.
     
    ———-
     
    I am happy to report the resolution calling for a ...
  • At our S Petersburg city council there will be a proposal today to OK a proposition for “peace in ‘Palestine’ and Israel.” It is one of about 70 (so far) resolutions from local governments meant to pressure the Biden Administration into further pressuring Israel for a ceasefire.
     
    I am opposed to it for so many reasons not least of which is the irony of a local city council weighing in on international affairs. I will be speaking in front of the chambers today and I’ve convinced ...
  • That’s OK.
     
    You’re stupid as I thought
     
     
     
    You reached out to me again for the second time.
     
    How’ve you been old friend? It seems like a million years. 
     
     
     
    No. It’s been five months. 
     
     
     
    Oh I guess I forgot. I wrote to you 
     
    on October 8. 
     
    I was freaked out.
     
     
     
    You forgot to write back. 
     
     
     
    What? Woke? Do you wanna call me now after five months? OK here’s my answer.
     
     
     
    I told you about the tragedy of my...
  • Today is Day 128
     
    My phone is lit up with warnings about Rafah. US media is warning the ‘world’ as seriously as serious can be about Israel’s persistence and tsk tsk “audacity” to continue operations in Rafah. 
     
    Really?!
     
    What choice does Israel have? 
     
    As I read in the Jerusalem Post this morning, Hamas took more than our hostages…they hold the whole of the Gazan people hostage. And for that matter, Hamas holds the world hostage.
     
    “Cleaning out” the Hama...
  • Super Sunday is tomorrow, and this year, it carries a powerful theme: "Donors are the Super Heroes." As we prepare to celebrate this day of giving on February 11, 2024, we want to shine a spotlight on the heroes in our community who are making an extraordinary impact on the lives of our community's most vulnerable, including Holocaust survivors. You possess the power to be their hero, providing essential assistance and a beacon of hope to those who've endured unimaginable hardship.
     
    Unsun...
  • I feel overwhelming optimism about Israel, something I’ve mentioned in previous posts, and which I will continue to discuss in this ongoing account. Yet when I explain Israel and my optimism for our future, my comments are clouded by doubt. Not my doubt. It’s a doubt that has been planted in people by our sensationalizing media. It’s a doubt that has led to a disproportionate concern by non-Israelis about the Israeli government. Strange isn’t it? People feel paralysis here and they wa...
  • Keep it personal. Three words that mean a lot.
     
    I continue to try to share my personal experiences and observations as the war continues into its fifth month and the traumas do not end. These months have been incredible. It’s hard to communicate how bad they’ve felt for me. On October 7 there was a seismic shift. Threats, lies, false narratives and hatred had been met by me and I think most American Jews with indifference. We woke up on October 7 to news that was as incomprehensible a...
  • This week The Jewish Press of the Florida Gulf Coast republished a picture from my visit to Kibbutz Be’eri. Yes, it’s a classic pose. I am wearing a helmet and a ceramic vest. Quite jaunty. It was taken the first day of our solidarity mission and we were visiting places inside the military restricted zone of Otef ‘Aza, the area immediately outside the border with Gaza where over 1200 people were killed in the most brutal manner imaginable. We were told the equipment was necessary for ...
  • You scream your victimhood
     
    My child rots in a cage
     
     
     
    You scream starvation 
     
    My child chokes in the dark 
     
     
     
    You scream resistance 
     
    My child writhes in silent pain she can’t understand 
     
     
     
    You rage for your land 
     
    The embers of my child’s spirit sputter 
     
     
     
    You scream lies, and from them, you weave a false truth 
     
    My child looks inward to nowhere
     
     
     
    You rage in your injustice
     
    My child finds emptiness
     
  • Today I wrote to an Israeli friend how it feels to be back in America. Here’s what I wrote to her:
     
    My re-entry to the US has been quite ‘interesting’. In some ways it is just easier to be in Israel right now. In Israel, there is understanding. Strangers are not strangers because everyone understands the situation. There is clarity. Not single minded agreement about many things, but clarity that this war is sadly, enragingly necessary.
     
    Here in the US, my friends look me deeply ...