Savannah city alderman Kenneth Sadler’s teenage daughter, Beth, has had what you might call an educational summer vacation.
Her trip with United Synagogue Youth has included visits to former Nazi concentration camps in Poland and Biblical archaeological sites in the Holy Land.
Most recently, her itinerary in Israel itself had to be changed to get away from the heavy fighting in the north of the country, on the Lebanese border.
Indeed, Sadler tells Connect that Beth has spent much of the last two weeks getting out of the way of the incoming rocket fire.
“They were in the north last week in Haifa, and the rockets started coming in so they moved them down to a kibbutz,” he says. “But they were still in rocket range, so they left the next day. Then rockets landed in Tiberias, which they were not far from. Now she’s doing fine in Jerusalem. United Synagogue Youth got them presently away from imminent danger.”
Still, though, there’s always the risk of suicide bombers in Israel, so Sadler says chaperones “have the kids on a close watch, and when they go anywhere they have to go in a group.”
Sadler says he’s told that Hezbollah doesn’t currently have rockets capable of going all the way to Jerusalem, and if they do, he says, “From a political point of view it’s doubtful they would use rockets in Jerusalem. There are a lot of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem and it’s highly unlikely they would want to damage any of them.”
Sadler says he’s confident that the youth group Beth’s traveling with will take good care of her.
“They keep them aware of what’s going on, but at the same time they’re a little removed from it,” he says.
Indeed, an e-mail from group leader Rabbi Alan Lucas that Sadler forwarded us makes that clear:
“Even amidst all this tension a sense of normalcy reigns. Your children are in the safe, secure parts of Israel and will remain so. In fact many of you may be surprised when you call your children to find them blissfully unaware of events that have you very concerned. It is not that USY shields them from reality but here reality is very different from what you are seeing on your television screens,” writes Lucas.
“Reality for us is everyone rushing home and doing last minute Shabbat shopping. Reality for us is the peace and quiet that will descend on this city as we celebrate Shabbat together. Reality for us is the cool crisp sweet air of a magnificent Jerusalem Shabbat eve. Don’t be surprised if this is the reality you confront when you speak to your children on the phone,” Lucas writes.
Sadler says trips to Israel have always been important for his family.
“I’ve been to Israel a couple of times, and my older daughter has been twice,” he says. “We like to send our children to Israel to gain more appreciation for the Jewish faith and the Jewish homeland.”
Sadler’s skeptical when we mention recent news stories about a new wave of emigration from the U.S. to Israel since the outbreak of fighting.
“There have been over the years many Jewish-Americans emigrating to Israel. There are different waves in varying times,” he says. “I’m not sure any of it right now is directly related to these events. People are always emigrating, it’s just highlighted now because of the situation.”
Beth Sadler is expected to return to the U.S. at the end of the month.