State of the Heart

March 26, 2020

Vijeta Uniyal ● Jerusalem Post

New book tells the unsung story of Israel’s humanitarianism

‘State of the Heart: Stories of a Humanitarian Israel’ puts focus on individual inspirational stories.

With anti-Israel activism sweeping Western educational institutions, and antisemitism raising its head again – this time cloaked as hostility toward Israel – there was never a better time to reacquaint one’s self with the benevolence and altruism that have propelled the Jewish state into a humanitarian superpower. Be it the tiny Caribbean islands devastated by a hurricane, or giant India hit by an earthquake, Israelis and the Jewish state are among the world’s first responders. Fortunately, a newly published book by Israeli educator and entrepreneur David Kramer tells us this very story. State of the Heart: Stories of a Humanitarian Israel is a collection of more than 50 stories, each celebrating the unsung Israeli heroes that today’s busy news cycle seldom cares to note. Written in short-story format, State of the Heart introduces readers to the selfless and courageous men and women behind Israeli non-profit organizations, charities and voluntary groups who are making a difference at home and abroad.

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State of the Heart – new review

March 17, 2020

Jack Reimer ● Boston Jewish Advocate

There are many miracles involved in Israel. The first, and the most obvious, is that it somehow still exists. The newspapers announced this week that Egypt—which is just one of the hostile countries that surrounds Israel—recently reached a total of a hundred million people! Hezbellah, which is a rabid foe of Israel, now has control of both Gaza and Lebanon. Iran, whose leaders have pledged to destroy Israel, continues to strive to become the dominant figure in the Middle East. And yet, Israel somehow survives.

When you count the population figures of Israel’s enemies, it is hard to understand how Israel has survived. There was one Zionist leader—I don’t remember which one it was—who said “that you do not have to believe in miracles to be a Zionist—but it certainly helps.”

And there is a second miracle that characterizes Israel and that is the one that this book tries to describe. It is true that there is corruption in the country. It is not a state composed of angels or of saints. It is true that there has been a coarsening of the discourse, not only on the floor of the Knesset where politicians berate each other with unseemly language, but on the crowded highways of the country, where impatient drivers yell at each other when they find themselves caught up in bottlenecks.

This is understandable in a country that imports a quarter of a million cars each year and that does not have the infrastructure to support this much traffic.

But what is hard to explain is what this book records: the amount of volunteerism in Israel, and the number of people who not only come to each other’s rescue in time of trouble, but the number of people who are ready to travel to any part of the world where people are coping with hurricanes or floods or tsunamis and need help.

You would think that a country which is constantly condemned in the United Nations would turn inwards and be concerned only with its own welfare and its own defense. You would think that a people that has so few allies in the world would become cynical and would not care when other nations are in distress. And yet, as this book documents, this is not so. Let there be a hurricane in Greece, or a fire in Australia, or a disaster at a public school in America, or a typhoon  in the Philippines, and Israelis are on the way.

Syria is one of Israel’s most implacable foes, and so you would think that Israelis would rejoice over the fact that it is caught up in a brutal civil war. You would think, to paraphrase what Henry Kissinger once said about the Vietnam War: “It is too bad that there can’t be two winners”. And yet Israel for years maintained what was called ‘a good fence’ on the border with Syria and took in thousands of civilians who were in need of surgery and urgent medical care. And it even sent doctors into Syria to set up emergency care facilities and to bring in medical supplies.

David Kramer records the experiences of some of these Israeli soldiers and civilians who have gone to places all around the world—some under the official sponsorship of the Israeli government and some as volunteers with ngos. Some of them are even in China right now, helping the scientists there cope with the Coronavirus, and helping the therapists cope with the traumatic stress that so many of the civilians are enduring there.

Will this book do any good in changing the attitudes of those countries that are hostile to Israel and who believe the stories that demonize Israel that are so widespread in the world today? Probably not, for many people think only once, and then repeat their points of view over and over again. But perhaps there are some people who understand that people are entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts.

And even if this book does not influence the rest of the world, we hope that it will influence Western Jews—especially those on college campuses—and help them to see the real Israel—which is a mixture of callousness and generosity, or corruption and kindness, which ought to be a model to the world.  

Jack Riemer is the author of two new books: Finding God in Unexpected Places and The Day I Met Father Isaac in the Supermarket, which are both available at Amazon.com


State of the Heart – new review

March 11, 2020

Dov Peretz Elkins ● Jewish Media Review

In State of the Heart, David Kramer takes us on a journey of Israel’s humanitarian efforts that began more than 70 years ago and continues unabated throughout the world today.

In this extraordinary and inspiring collection of over 50 stories, personal interviews, and photographs, David describes the benevolence and altruism that characterizes the nation of Israel. He engages the reader with narratives that identify and provide a glimpse into the compassionate soul of the Israeli people. 

Featured in these accounts are descriptions of life-saving technology and innovation, helping the disabled and teens at risk, managing food collection and distribution programs for the disadvantaged, immigrant absorption and elder care, infertility programs, women’s empowerment and human rights, rescuing victims in the aftermath of natural disasters worldwide, developing and providing life-saving solutions to those in developing nations, cleaning up and protecting the environment, and so much more. 

State of the Heart captures the unique level of concern, care and uncompromising sense of mission, undertaken by Israelis, within Israel and around the globe.

David Kramer is an educator, author and social entrepreneur. He has spent the past ten years helping Israeli and global non-profit organizations tell their story through a social start-up he founded in Israel. David spends much of his time meeting with tour groups in Israel, connecting them to the reality of life in Israel. He served in the Israeli army and lives in Jerusalem with his wife Tova and their five children. 


Prophecies and Providence and Harry S. Truman

February 11, 2015

By Alan Jay Gerberprophecies web1

Rabbi Shlomo Lorincz, of blessed memory, was among the most unheralded founders of the State of Israel. Elected nine times to a seat in the Knesset, he saw met and spoke to just about every leading figure of his day. A close confidant of the Chazon Ish, Rav Shach and the Brisker Rav, Lorincz was also at ease with David Ben Gurion, Moshe Dayan, and Golda Meir. It was from him as well as from Yosef Berg and Rav Maimon that the secular leadership learned the religious basis for yishuv Eretz Yisrael.

In a recently published book, “Prophecies and Providence” by Rabbi Yehoshua Pfeffer (Devora Publishing), we learn the fascinating story that was a motivating factor for President Harry Truman’s speedy recognition of the State of Israel literally within minutes of its establishment.

“Indeed, President Harry S Truman, who hurried to issue an official statement recognizing the provisional Jewish government as de facto authority of the new Jewish state — and thereby angering U.S. delegates to the U.N. and top ranking State Department officials who were not notified of the decision — cited his childhood dream of repeating the benevolence of Cyrus [the Persian Emperor] as the background for his decision.”

This except was taken from an article on The Jewish Star. Click here to view the entire article.

 


20 Years Since the Passing of a Great Torah Sage and General, Rabbi Shlomo Goren

January 27, 2015

By Tuly WeisRabbi Shlomo Goren: Torah Sage and General

There are few people that have influenced Israeli and modern Jewish history as strongly as famed IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren who passed away 20 years ago. The biography “Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Torah Sage and General,” by Shalom Freedman presents a fascinating portrait of his life and a moving description of the values that he stood for.

“Torah Sage and General” details Rabbi Goren’s life describing how he took part in some of Israel’s most crucial moments.  The cover of the book even displays perhaps the most famous photo of Rabbi Goren blowing the shofar when he was present at the liberation of the Western Wall, during the Six Day War in 1967.

Rabbi Goren was one of the first people to race to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron when the Israeli army captured it in 1967.  Pushing himself to be the first to reach these holy sites was typical of Rabbi Goren.

“Rabbi Goren was one of those people who seemed to know no fear for his personal safety.  In fact, his life is studded with heroic acts in which he volunteered to do-at great personal risk – what others were reluctant to do.  During and after the Israeli War of Independence, and in fact through a period of close to twenty-five years, he risked his life to recover the bones of soldiers for proper burial,” the author writes.

Towards the end of his life, Rabbi Goren came out against the Oslo Accords and advocated for retaining control of the entire Land of Israel.  He was not afraid to stand up for what is right, even if it put him at odds with powerful people, even people that he cared for, such as Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.

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Charedim and Dov Lipman

December 28, 2014

By Harry MarylesTo Unify a Nation

One of the biggest assets of the Charedi community in Israel is someone that hails from a Modern Orthodox background in the United States. He is a Talmud Chacham with a fine secular education. But he has bought entirely into the Charedi mindset in Israel. I consider him a friend. And I think he would say the same about me.  But one would not know that by one angry comment (among many) he made recently on my blog (in response to my own comment to him). He calls himself Dan (not his real name). I post it here in its entirety:

I’m absolutely horrified that Orthodox people don’t give a hoot about the undermining of religious issues in Israel as defined NOT by Charedim, but by ANY Orthodox Rabbi. Laws by Yesh Atid had to be blocked time and again by Bayit Yehudi because Rabbis such as *Rav Druckman* said they are anti-Torah.

Lipman has had plenty of chances to explain his views, and I don’t care what Lipman considers himself. Supporting a law that allows non-Jews to adopt Jews (and that IS part of the law, for all those falsely claiming I misrepresented; it goes BOTH ways) is supporting Shmad. Period.

He is horrified?  Well, I too am horrified. I am horrified that his children (and virtually all other Charedi children) will never receive the education he did. That they will not be prepared for the outside world in the slightest. That they will be sociologically forced to sit and learn Torah for as long as possible without the slightest bit of preparation for the work force during that time.

I am horrified that the skills their own father learned in the US which affords him the opportunity for a decent job will not be available to his children for a lack of learning them. I am horrified that his children (and all other Charedi children) are being told that their first choice in life must be to abandon working for a living since there is so much Torah to learn. They therefore need every available moment of study to be geared towards that.

I am horrified that even children that are not as much suited for Torah study as they might be for some other field are being told to ignore that and continue studying Torah for as long as possible. Read the rest of this entry »


A Hopeful Vision of Israel’s Future

December 10, 2014

by Tuly WeiszTo Unify a Nation

For those who care about the future of the State of Israel and the Jewish People, To Unify A Nation: My Vision for the Future of Israel is a great and quick read. I read the entire book this past Shabbat in which Knesset Member Rabbi Dov Lipman outlines an inspiring vision for the Land and People of Israel in just under one hundred pages.

After reading To Unify a Nation I was left dreaming about the promising potential that lies in Israel and recalling fondly why I made Aliyah in the first place.

While Lipman’s book is eternally optimistic, it deals with Israeli society’s greatest challenges. He boldly addresses racism and the dignity of man, the role of religion in society, accepting all Jews, sharing national responsibility, Jewish pride, and the centrality of the Bible in Israeli society. According to the American born Knesset Member who is also an Orthodox rabbi, these values are all necessary ingredients for creating national unity in the Jewish State.

The book repeatedly calls for Jews to exhibit tolerance, spirituality, and solidarity. Lipman explains that, “I realized that polarization caused by extremism and isolationism in the religious community may be the greatest internal threat to the future of the Jewish people. All of our classic sources and basic logic dictate that the key to our success as a nation is unity.”

Knesset Member Lipman is uniquely qualified to address his English readers having grown up in a suburb of Washington D.C. and immigrating to Israel in 2004. Amazingly, he became a member of the Knesset in 2013, only 9 years after moving to Israel, proving to be a role model for all recent American immigrants to Israel.

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