The Jewish Observer
News from Middle Tennessee's Jewish Community | Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Jewish Observer

For the past few months, Nashville has been home to six Israeli families whose homes in kibbutzim near the Gaza border were destroyed or so seriously damaged that they are unlivable. Through a joint effort by the Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville, Jewish Family Service, Delek Corporation, and the Shai fund, we welcomed these families and provided them with respite from the chaos and fear forced upon them in the brutality of October 7, and gave them the chance to enjoy moments of safety, security, kindness, and familial love.

You would think that upon arriving here they would want to do as little as possible, to use the time to heal, to rest, and to take care of themselves. They did all of this and were determined to give back to their temporary home. After the tornado that hit middle Tennessee in December, they came to the Jewish Federation offices to assist in making phone calls to everyone in our database in the affected zip codes. They did this not because we asked them, they did this out of sense of purpose and determination, built upon the Jewish value of kol Yisrael aravim zeh b’zeh – all Jews are responsible for each other.

Later in their stay, they planned, organized, and facilitated a very special Israel workshop morning at the Gordon JCC filled with meaningful Tu B’shevat activities, shakshuka cooking demonstration, and small group conversations about their personal story, how they survived the atrocity of October 7, and what they hope for their future.

At the close of the morning, Rotem Ben Ami shared some reflections and gratitude. She started with the heartbreaking story of her son, who after October 7 believed that there were no more good people in the world. His time in Nashville helped him to rediscover that people can be good, and the people who welcomed him to Nashville helped him make that transformative shift.

At the Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville, we are continually adapting to the reality, challenge, and opportunity presented daily. We often think about “why” we do what we do. Helping a little boy remember and believe that there are still good people in the world is a priceless example of why we do what we do.

The people of Israel are still in shock and trauma from the horror of October 7, but their resolve will not be dimmed, and the Jewish community around the world will not forsake them. We are all in this together, on both sides of the ocean. Noam Horev is a well-known Israeli poet and songwriter, who has written lyrics for many of Israel’s leading musicians. The poem below, which he’s posted on his website here, got a lot of traction on Israeli social media and speaks to how many Israelis are feeling:

Cut and Save” by Noam Horev.

This song

must be cut

and hung on the fridge

Because after it's all over

After the smoke of the fires has dissipated

After the count of the fallen soldiers ends —

we will still be here.

And we must not forget

how much we gave

to each other

How a right-winger sat with a left-wing

Kibbutznik with city folk

Religious with secular

how we all got along —

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You and me too

Let us not gather only around disasters

Let us find in ourselves the courage to change

Let's remember even after everything calms down

We have no unnecessary wrinkles to worry about

Let's engrave on our skin the will of the dancers [at the rave]

May we forever be united

May we not be seduced by cheap politics

May we walk in ways of forgiveness and compassion

Let's not repeat the same mistake

even within the complicated mess of reality

Let us look for the best

even from this very moment

Let us not discover at the end of the battle

That it was all in vain

This song

must be cut

and hung on the fridge

Because after it's all over

After the smoke of the fires has dissipated

We will have to build a life

out of what remains.

That’s how Israelis think about what’s here—they think about what’s left here. If one wants to summarize the mood, Horev captures it perfectly:

“We will have to build a life out of what remains.”