In the Czech Republic and the whole of Central Europe, we very often and closely return to the historical lesson of the Shoah. Events protesting against modern manifestations of traditional anti-Semitism take place on a regular basis. When the Bnej Israel Prague community under the supervision of Rabbi David Bohbot organized a demonstration under the statue of St. Wenceslas in the heart of Prague in summer 2014 (more precisely on June 24, 2014) for the release of three Israeli young men abducted by the radical Hamas, it opened a new chapter in a certain way. The topic was ruthless anti-Semitism turned directly against the heart of the Jews, against Israel.
During this demonstration, we stood with Israeli flags directly underneath St. Wenceslas and initially only a few curious onlookers gathered around. In the coming weeks, the demonstrations repeated, and thanks to Jews, Christians and other representatives of active civil society they became frequently visited. Symbolic support is definitely the right thing, but the situation also calls for concrete and practical support. There are certainly many ways how to help Israel today, but I did the right thing when I did not abandon the journey to Sar-El.
Yes, it is work in the Israeli army uniform for the Israeli army on its bases, but CAHAL always played the role of an essential social and cultural phenomenon in the Israeli society, let us mention, for example, the teaching of Hebrew as a purely practical phenomenon of communication between Jews from different parts of the world. Even a rather pacifist-oriented person can clearly see the results of their actions and work. I have met with a number of volunteers from around the world, from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, France, Great Britain, Holland, Italy, Hungary, Switzerland, and Russia.
The potential of Sar-El for the future is that it is a positive volunteering alternative to dark destructive currents of thought, which are now promoted in the Middle East. In the Independence Hall in Tel Aviv, we attended a lecture, where the speaker stressed that Israel did not originate as a result of the Shoah of European Jews, but rather in defiance of this disaster. Israel continues to prosper somewhat in defiance of the surrounding states.
Very high public spending for the defence of Israel is the price that is paid and will continue to be paid. I made a personal opinion that Sar-El not only saves the Israeli army’s money, but it is also an instrument of public support for Israel as the homeland of almost unbelievable positive creativity, as manifested in science, industry, and culture.
Tomáš Hájek, Prague, Sar-El Volunteer, november and december 2014