I don’t even know if I have the energy or strength to recount today, but I’ll try, albeit briefly.
We started with a visit to Har Herzl, where we went to the newest section where fallen soldiers are being buried. It was pretty intense and only got more so as we listened to an Israeli progressive rabbi who has officiated funerals of the fallen. Then we heard from Elana and Ayal Kaminka who lost their first-born son Yannai, an IDF officer who was killed defending his base and rescuing civilians. It was a heartbreaking story that was also somehow full of hope.
I last went to Har Herzl when I came on Birthright about 10.5 years ago. I was in a completely different stage of life, in my mid-twenties, freshly converted. I’m a decade older now, having lost my mom, and now expecting my first child. It was a completely different experience, only emphasized by the events of 10/7.
We later heard from a rabbi whose community is next to Gaza and was heavily affected and ended the day at the National Library. There was an interactive program with a poet/playwright/rapper/musician and rabbi who shared an amazing and moving cultural response to this moment in time.
I am exhausted, physically (thanks pregnancy) and definitely emotionally.