OKLAHOMA CITY – Separated by just a few days, two events in Oklahoma City brought home to the Sooner State a deep divide in perspectives concerning the conflict now roiling Israel and the Gaza Strip controlled by Hamas.
Both events included passionate prayers for peace, and calls for safety of civilians both in Israel and Gaza. Each also included firm declarations of the righteousness of one side, and the wrongness of the other.
A group of young people, Israeli Scouts, last Tuesday and Wednesday (July 22-23) came here as part of the annual Friendship Caravan. Co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City and held at Temple B’nai Israel on North Pennsylvania Avenue.
Attendees included Boy Scouts from several different communities in the area, to welcome the young women and men from the Israeli scouting movement.
Edie Roodman, executive director of the Federation, addressed the gathering of around 200 people, reading a letter from a relative in Israel which deplored the violence and loss of life occurring in the region.
The Israel national anthem was performed in both Hebrew and English. An Israeli Scout, Dov Rabin – living in Oklahoma City this summer -- read a prayer for Israel in Hebrew.
CapitolBeatOK's editor (McGuigan), also publisher of The City Sentinel, read an English translation of the prayer.
The traditional prayer reads as follows:
“Our Father in Heaven, Rock and Redeemer of the people Israel. Bless the State of Israel, with its promise of redemption. Shield it with Your love; spread over it the shelter of Your peace. Guide its leaders and advisors with Your light and Your truth. Help them with Your good counsel. Strengthen the hands of those who defend our Holy Land. Deliver them, crown their efforts with triumph. Bless the land with peace, and its inhabitants with lasting joy.
“Please protect our brethren, all the House of Israel, in all of the lands to which they have dispersed. Unify our hearts in love and in awe of Your Name, so that we may keep all of the words of Your Torah. Bring us quickly to a time of peace and tranquility, and save those who eagely await Your deliverance.
“Appear, in all Your splendor and the greatness of Your strength, to all of the inhabitants of Your land, and let all who have breaths in their bodies proclaim that Adonai, the God of Israel, rules and that God's sovereignty is complete. Amen.”
Rabbi Abby Jacobson of Emanuel Synagogue addressed the gathering and spoke with emotion concerning Jewish traditions of celebrating life even in times of sorrow. She explained that Scouts from the Israeli Friendship Caravan work to create friendship between the people of Israel and of the United States.
The traveling troupe had performed 71 shows through that date. Israeli scouts are similar to their counterparts in the U.S. and other nations.
They sang and danced songs about life there, and spoke individually of different parts of Israel they call home. A visual presentation told of the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948, and Scouts handed out Israeli flags adorned with the Star of David.
An Israeli Scout presented a Scouting kerchief to Pamela Richman, director of Camp Chaverim, a youth camp held each summer at Temple B’nai Israel.
The day after the evening rally of support for Israel, the Scouts worked with young campers attending the summer camp at the Temple. On their present trip, the group has performed in New York, Florida, Texas, with stops planned in several other states after leaving Oklahoma.
The evening at the Temple included a Kosher Dinner, entertainment from the Scouts, the prayers for Israel, and for members of the Israeli Defense Force.
NOTE:O'Brien assisted with reporting on the rally in support of Israel; McGuigan wrote the final version of the article. This is adapted from a news story published this week in The City Sentinel, a weekly newspaper.