Daniel Stieglitz

Daniel  StieglitzI began writing this article a few weeks ago, when Arab terrorists burst into a Jerusalem synagogue and murdered four Jewish men in the middle of morning prayers as well as one non-Jewish police officer, who is being lauded as a hero. And what is the primary emotion I feel when hearing about such incidents against Jews? No, not anger – it’s sadness, and it comes from more than one factor.

The first of those factors are the victims of the Jerusalem attack. Seeing the blood-stained images of the men, still garbed in their tallitot (prayer shawls) and tefillin (phylacteries), items I don on a regular basis myself for morning prayers, broke my heart. Hearing how the Druze police officer ran toward the danger, rather than away from it, leaving behind a wife and four-month-old daughter, also broke my heart. I always try to look for a silver lining and hearing how thousands of Jews and non-Jews attended the officer’s funeral warmed my heart. In addition to that, on the eve of the first Shabbat since the murders took place, the grieving wives of the victims asked everyone to make it a Shabbat of peace and love.

Daniel  StieglitzThis past April I began working at a company called Sachlav | IsraelontheHouse, a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip organizer.

Since 1999, Taglit-Birthright Israel has given more than 400,000 young Jews the gift of a free 10-day trip to Israel. Sachlav is one of several Taglit-Birthright Israel trip organizers that runs trips for American citizens and residents.

Among IsraelontheHouse’s distinguishing factors is that we cater to all kinds of people who identify as Jewish. It doesn’t matter if someone considers themselves to be a secular, Reconstructionist, Reform, Conservative or Orthodox Jew. Our buses blend all sorts of Jews from various backgrounds, which in itself enhances their Taglit-Birthright Israel experiences in Israel. These young people discover the Land of Israel while also discovering the many facets that Judaism has to offer. IsraelontheHouse’s trips are the perfect mix of exposure to Israel’s religion, culture, landscape and history (both biblical and modern), without focusing too much on one or the other.

Daniel  StieglitzBack in 2007, I was sitting around the dinner table with my parents when I told them I planned on making aliyah (immigrating) to Israel that summer. I didn’t know how they would react. After a few seconds of silence they replied, “Fine, as long as you come back for Pesach every year. Can you pass the salt, please?”

Two things crossed my mind at that moment: 1) That they took the news of my impending move around the world so well and 2) that I would be fine with coming back for Pesach every year. At the time, the irony of this latter thought was lost on me. Pesach is one of the holidays where Jews are specifically supposed to go to Jerusalem, and not away from it. At the time my only thoughts were that I wouldn’t want to spend Pesach anywhere else than with my family.

Daniel  StieglitzOver the last few weeks, I’ve written and re-written this article several times. When I first began, I wrote about how I hoped that the three kidnapped Israeli teens would be found alive and safe. Their deaths were reported a few hours later. 

Then there was the murdered Arab teen. All of us, not wanting to believe that one of our own could be capable of performing a revenge killing, hoped that the perpetrator would be found and would be Arab. We were wrong, and we learned the hard way that one of ours was capable of committing such a crime. 

Then, more and more rockets were fired into Israel. The situation once again escalated, and most of the country found itself running to bomb shelters. Some, particularly those in the south of Israel, made more trips than others. 

Daniel  StieglitzMany people are quick to post articles that depict the negative aspects of a particular group. It is apparently 100% factual,newsworthy information or, as I like to call it, juicy gossip. This is why one never sees headlines such as the one I wroteabove. What group doesn’t have members that make a lot of noise and give it a bad name? Should every American bejudged by the fact that a few dozen members of its 300 million+ citizens make America the leader in school shootings?