The Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix is hosting an interfaith men’s mission of community leaders to Israel to develop a better understanding of our cultures and forge relationships that can benefit our local and global community.
Marty Haberer, Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix President & CEO
On Yom Hashoah, we were honored to have Dr. Reuben Hazan as our guest speaker this morning. We learned about Israel’s Parliamentary democracy, which means there are no politicians on the ballot. Israeli’s vote for a political party, rather than a person. Individuals and groups with shared ideology and values come together in the hopes of getting enough support to form a government aligned with their goals. In addition, Israel has what is known as proportional representation, meaning that the percentage of the total popular votes a party receives is equal to the percentage of the 120 seats they will occupy in parliament. Israeli politics is foremost about security, then religion, and then the economy. Obviously, this is quite a bit different than the political system in the United States, but we’re not a country that is less than 75 years old and an island of democracy surrounded by very different and sometimes violent forces.
It is Yom HaShoah and we spent the latter part of the morning at the Western Wall. Surrounded by approximately 100 soldiers, we all observed two minutes of silence in honor of the 6 million lives lost during the Holocaust. It was incredibly moving and very memorable. For several in our group, it was their first visit to this most moving sight. We also visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the most holy of Christian sites.
Later we visited United Hatzalah, a truly remarkable organization that has found a quicker way to get medical attention to those in need of emergency care. They use motorcycles, bicycles, and other forms of transportation including personal vehicles to get volunteers to show up where people need medical care and do so quicker than an ambulance could get to the site.
It was an amazing first day filled with reverence, new friendships and greater understanding of each other and our desire to make a difference in the communities where we live and perhaps beyond.