Tyler rabbi on study trip amid attacks

Published on Tuesday, 8 July 2014 22:16 - Written by Staff Reports


Now on a trip to Israel, Rabbi Neal Katz, of Tyler’s Congregation Beth El, described on his Facebook page having to take cover in a shelter as Israel and the Gaza militants group Hamas hurled rockets at each other on Tuesday.

Katz left Ty­ler on June 17 and is scheduled to return Thursday.

“I left my study program, and within 30 seconds of leaving the campus, the sirens went off in Jerusalem, meaning get to a shelter immediately,” Katz wrote on Facebook.

“Hamas had sent a bunch of unguided missiles all over the country and sirens were going off all over the place. They don’t care if those random rockets fall on hospitals, nursing homes and schools. Thankfully, the Iron Dome catches them and shoots them down mid-air.” Katz said.

“I ran back to the bomb shelter on my campus and after about 10 minutes of nervousness, we were released to go home. On the six-minute walk back to my apartment, I saw a couple walking a dog, a kid playing with a friend and a woman on her balcony enjoying a smoke. It seems everything is back to normal-ish already,” Katz said.

More importantly, Katz said, he had “a wonderful experience earlier” in the day when he was invited to pay a condolence visit to the family of the slain Palestinian boy, Mohammed Abu Khdeir.

“I was part of a delegation of hundreds, maybe 600 people, who went to the family’s neighborhood in the West Bank and offered our condolences to a line of men, including Mohammed’s father,” Katz said.

“My favorite moment came when poet Alden Solovy gave a poem he had written about Mohammed to his father. He told him in Hebrew what it was about and the father smiled, took the poem and said thank you,” Katz said.

A ceremony that followed, Katz said, “was uncomfortably politicized with a community member on the microphone making political comments, but the heart of the visit remained. Here were hundreds of Israelis and Americans and Canadians — Jewish and non(Jewish) — visiting the family as a show of love and support.”

Aside from the political commentary, Katz said, “It was a nice event” and as “a small anecdote to the hateful rhetoric and vitriol that too often pervades our discourse.”