One Jewish home
The year is 1968, a year following the Six-Day War of 1967. An American patriot and not a Zionist, I become a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The world has changed. Jerusalem, the city ancient and new, is reunited (“How the Six-Day War changed American Jews,” June 1).
As the American patriot, I didn’t understand Zionism. My dorm counselor, Hezee asked me where I’m from. I said, “I am an American.” He asked, “How long are you here?” I said, “One year, then I go back home.” He reacted immediately. “Home? This is your home!”
He asked, “Are you Jewish?” I said, “Yes.”
He said, “There are many homes for Jews, but there’s only one Jewish home. Israel is your home. You’ll be here one year, you’ll change. You’ll understand.”
A year later, I called for a taxi to take me to Lod Airport to fly back. As the taxi drove through the Jerusalem neighborhoods. I looked at each street and I cried.
The only thing that made it possible to leave was knowing that I’m going to return, to the one Jewish home, the State of Israel.
SANFORD H. SHUDNOW
Silver Spring, and Sydney, Australia
The writer, a rabbi, is a retired Navy chaplain and served as a chaplain at the Washington, D.C., Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Branches and blessings
I was intrigued by the message shared by Rabbi James Michaels (“Unlocking the power of a blessing,” D’var Torah, June 1).
It reminded me of an experience I had several years ago when on one of my frequent trips to the Western Wall in Israel, I was confronted by a beautifully bearded man who carried a bundle of what appeared to be olive branches. As he handed one to me, I instinctively reached into my pocket to give him a few shekels, assuming he was one of many collecting alms for what was ostensibly a good cause.
“No, no”, he said. “I am selling these but not for shekels.” When I appeared puzzled, he said, “Just give me a blessing … any blessing. It may be aloud, silent or just in your mind … priestly or personal.”
I did, and as I appeared puzzled, he told me that “business” had been very good, and he had but a few branches left and filled with blessings. I left him with a blessed feeling for myself.
DR. BEN WILLIAMOWSKY
The article “Joan Sacarob is not done yet” (Seniors, June 1) incorrectly reported that she and her husband, Donald, have lived in Northern Virginia for 40 years. They have lived in the area for 60 years.