Planting a tree in Israel

Planting a tree in Israel
Bringing life to Israel with my own hands by planting a tree!(summer 2010)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Independence Day 2011

The fireworks are over! The rockets' red glare, accompanied by music, bring
smiles to all
. The grills have been cleaned and there may be a few leftovers
from the cookouts in the fridge. The anticipation of celebrating our
independence has waned but the memories are good. We have a lot to be
thankful for - we are a free nation.
I am sure you have seen travelers in airports greeting soldier and sailors and
thanking hem for their service to our nation. Ever since September 11
, 2001 
there has been greater awareness of the duties fulfilled by
our servicewomen and servicemen and their selfless acts which preserve
our security.
Freedom is a very precious gift and it does not come easily. During our
daily life we may not take stock of freedom's import unless
we are reminded by some extreme event of how valued and how
fleeting it truly is.
A week before July 4th (June 26)  many people mark a very
different anniversary. Five years ago Gilad Shalit, a soldier who was 19,
standing by a road and minding his own business was kidnapped by Hamas
terrorists. He has been held in captivity in Gaza for 5 years. In viol
ation of
the Geneva Convention and all international norms he has been denied
access to the International Red Cross,  supervised medical care or any communication
with his family or his government. In March of 2009 Israel traded 20 female
prisoners who had been accused of terrorism  for a DVD of Gilad
Shalit. No indication of his health or life has been received since. It makes
me think about what it means to be free.
In the Jewish morning liturgy, there are 15 one sentence prayers. "Blessed are
, 0 God, who has opened my eyes." "Blessed are You, 0 God, who has helped
me to get dressed." "Blessed are You
, 0 God, who has helped me to stretch my legs
and walk
." "Blessed are You, 0 God, who helps me to stand
upright." Each blessing helps us to welcome a new day. One of the blessings
reads as follows
, "Blessed are You, God, ruler of the universe, who has made me
In normal times I have said this blessing without giving it too much thought.
After all
, growing up in the United States I take being free for granted. This
year as Gilad's anniversary of capture nearly coincided with July
4th I began
to think about "being free." It occurs to me that it is truly a blessing and I
should not take it for granted. I will not ask you to pray for the release of a
24 year old stranger until he comes home for
 that is too
burdensome. But after reading this blog, I ask you to pray for his release for three days.
For three days, pray that he comes home.  Let him be reunited with his family.
Let him be free.

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