Reflections on TanenbaumCHAT in Israel

March 1, 2024 / 5 mins read

By Head of School Dr. Jonathan Levy


The Bible is full of stories of individuals who are reluctant to answer God’s call to action.

Moses says:
מִ֣י אָנֹ֔כִי כִּ֥י אֵלֵ֖ךְ אֶל־פַּרְעֹ֑ה וְכִ֥י אוֹצִ֛יא אֶת־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מִמִּצְרָֽיִם
Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should take the children of Israel out of Egypt? (Exodus 3:11)

Jeremiah tells the Almighty:
הִנֵּ֥ה לֹֽא־יָדַ֖עְתִּי דַּבֵּ֑ר כִּי־נַ֖עַר אָנֹֽכי
I do not know how to speak, for I am a youth! (Jeremiah 1:6)

Jonah, when instructed to go to Nineveh:
וַיָּ֤קׇם יוֹנָה֙ לִבְרֹ֣חַ תַּרְשִׁ֔ישָׁה מִלִּפְנֵ֖י יְהֹו
He arose to flee Tarshish, from before the Lord (Jonah 1:3)

Whether it be fear, humility or a feeling that the mission was futile, many initially resisted their calling.

An exception is Isaiah. In his vision of God, Isaiah hears the voice of the Lord say “whom shall I send, and who shall go for us?” Isaiah promptly replies “Hinini!” Here I am! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

This week, 36 TanenbaumCHAT students said Hinini and answered the call, touching down in Tel Aviv on the first TanenbaumCHAT Chesed Solidarity Mission to Israel. Since arriving, they’ve engaged in a wide range of activities including visiting with injured terror victims, bearing witness to the devastation at Ofakim (called A City of Heroes), and BBQ-ing for soldiers on an army base.

They had the incredible opportunity to be menachem avel, meeting with Rachel Edery who staved off terrorists for 18 hours on October 7 and is now sitting shiva for her husband, David (video below). The group even had a private gathering with Isaac Herzog, President of the State of Israel, who told them, “You are here – the first school since 7/10 – standing with us, and we stand with you. There are many voices against us, but I say to you all, be proud, stand strong. Together we will prevail."

[Students make a shiva call to Rachel Edery]

Commitment to Israel has always been a priority for TanenbaumCHAT. Since October 7, we have further increased our efforts to reinforce this with our students. As we’ve gathered together in assemblies, studied current events in class, fundraised for essentials needed in Israel or prayed for the welfare of the State and its people, Israel has been at the forefront of our minds.

As TanenbaumCHAT emissaries, our students currently in Israel – whether picking vegetables with Leket, Israel’s national food bank, or singing in Hostages Square – are the embodiment of our school’s commitment to building connections between our community and the people and State of Israel. They also have embraced the resolve and ruach that is emblematic of TanenbaumCHAT, spontaneously starting an impromptu dance party (video below) that included everyone present at the “The Pitmaster” restaurant which lost two staff members at the Nova festival and was closed for a month after October 7.

As God tells the prophet Zecharia (8:5):
וּרְחֹב֤וֹת הָעִיר֙ יִמָּ֣לְא֔וּ יְלָדִ֖ים וִֽילָד֑וֹת מְשַׂחֲקִ֖ים בִּרְחֹֽבֹתֶֽיהָ׃
And the squares of the city shall be crowded with boys and girls playing in the squares

We pray for strength for the people of Israel. We will dance again.

Am Yisrael Chai & Shabbat Shalom.

[Students lead a spontaneous dance party]


See photos of the trip here.


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