Yankele went missing in the north the other day, and it appears the entire country had trouble falling asleep. A young boy spending the night alone in a nature reserve without water or any other means does not make for a promising start. The last days in the area were very hot, and when temperatures rise, the snakes come out at night. This certainly did not sound like a story with a happy end.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people rushed to Moshav Megadim near my home in order to offer help. Police officers, Nature Reserve Authority inspectors, and others. I saw members of Zaka, people wearing knitted kippas, and residents of area moshavim and kibbutzim. It was clear that the fact the boy was ultra-Orthodox made no difference, even to the pork-eaters among the searchers (this is not a false accusation – I personally know many of them.) After all, religious rescue workers also don’t care about who they’re helping when they take care of them.
If only a week ago I would have asked Israelis to present a situation where a police officer and a haredi teenager appear side by side, what would have been the result? Most of us would have described a police officer dragging a rioting haredi boy to a police cruiser, against a backdrop of fire and smoke. Others would have described a police officer hit in the face with a soiled diaper hurled by a young haredi rioter.
Yet who would have believed that haredi parents would love nothing more than to see their son being led to the police station? That an entire country holding its breath overnight sighed a collective sigh of relief after seeing a photo of a haredi teenager embraced by a policeman?
There’s still hope for usThe photo posted on the front pages of newspaper says it all. A police officer hugging a religious boy and everyone is overjoyed. All of those who were already celebrating the disintegration of Israeli society would do well to enlarge this photo and hang it in their offices. Those who wish to understand the secret of the Jewish people should closely examine the photo. A framed enlargement should be ordered for the offices of Nasrallah, Ahmadinejad, and Haniyeh.
This photo is worth more than a 1,000 words. It shows there’s nothing you can do about it – the Jewish glue is still working. Each and every one of us is willing to do anything in order to save one child.
Cynics, such as myself, will ask: What’s the big deal? A child was rescued by security forces merely doing their job. After all, it happens everywhere: In Buddhist, Christian, and communist states. In addition, we’re already hearing the voices: “Oh, those haredim! They go on a trip and take along tefilin instead of water!” All of this is true. Yet why would an Indian in Punjab care about a Sikh child going miss in Mumbai? The anger and criticism are a clear sign of caring. The indifference is what concerns us, and thank God, I did not find indifferent people in the State of Israel.
So indeed, we are willing to badmouth each other in talkbacks and scream at each other on television. We are also able to refer to security forces as “Nazis” and to the haredim as “parasites.” In short, we know how to hate our brothers in our heart just like good Jews know how to do.
Yet it appears that all of us are nothing more than overzealous talkers, especially when we have nothing better to do. When we face a test, we always meet it. Had Israelis believed everything uttered about the haredim, they would not come out to search for Yankele. On the other hand, what haredi father would allow a “Nazi” to his son?
As it turns out, and as is customary around here, we say one thing but we believe something else in our Jewish heart. And how big this heart is – the photo of Yankele with the police officer shows this clearly. It shows that despite all, perhaps there’s still hope for us.