Thursday, August 16, 2012

Rebels with a Cause

Yom chamishi, 28 Av 5772.
A Rebel greets a future IDF soldier
When I was young, I loved opportunities to work with the local theater.  But I never wanted to be on stage.  Too much pressure to get it right.  Besides, the best show was happening backstage.  We stage-hands, makeup artists, and costume and props people had more fun than either the performers or the audience.

On Tuesday this week, former Baltimoreans planned to meet at the Nefesh B'Nefesh welcome ceremony for the 350 new North American olim who joined us as citizens of the Holy Land.  Our goal was to gather to honor our fifth-year anniversary.  My family actually arrived later in the year -- but everyone was invited to catch up in the admittedly emotional atmosphere at Ben Gurion Airport, Terminal 1.  The news has covered more than adequately the highlights of the day: 127 young soldiers-to-be dancing joyfully with old friends and new; Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking to the group; Natan Sharansky and all of the usual Nefesh B'Nefesh lineup of inspiring speakers reminding guests and immigrants alike of why we have all come Home.

I didn't participate in the onstage party as I usually would have.  (If you live in or are visiting Israel, and have never done a Nefesh B'Nefesh welcome gig, do yourself a favor: make a point of going to greet the olim.  As Go'el Jasper once remarked, he was too exhausted at his own welcome ceremony to really appreciate it.  But when he attended the ceremony to greet other olim, he couldn't stop crying at the beauty of the experience.)

Instead, I was at the backstage party, hanging out with a bunch of orange-clad Rebels, as they unloaded baggage from the baggage carousels.


If you have trouble viewing the video, you can find it here on YouTube.

The Dearly Beloved, in his new life as guitar instructor and football coach, is now the proud head coach of not only the high school team, the Orli Print Ravens, but also of the Judean Rebels, one of the Israel Football League's ten adult teams.

One of our players, Tani  Kramer, has Nefesh B'Nefesh as his day job.  He had the idea that big, strong, strapping football players might be just the right guys for the job of unloading the amazing amount of very heavy luggage the new immigrants bring in, as they uproot their lives, and replant them in holy soil.

We were proud of our guys.  They worked hard, not stopping with just pulling bags and boxes off of carousels, but also organizing them so that the tired new immigrants could find their possessions easily.

It was a good day, hard as any Rebels workout, and just as satisfying.  A couple of Tel Aviv Pioneers even showed up to assist, and the cooperation was a pleasure to watch.

Which inspired in me a coach-mom prayer: Hashem, see the brotherhood on this "field"?  If You can inspire this kind of sportsmanship on the gridiron, maybe football can go back to what it was meant to be -- a game.

One of the greatest games a guy can play.
Not the whole detail -- just the first guys to show up for this game

Leave a bunch of high-energy guys with nothing to do in a big, open space, and they will toss a pigskin around to fill the time.  "We should get up for practice at 4 AM every day.  We're really good today."

One of the 127 new IDF recruits.  Thank you for your holy service, guys and gals!

Many Israelis got up at 4 AM to cheerfully greet the new citizens.

Apparently, a couple of the guys failed to catch the ball during one handed catch drills.

"Drop and give me ten!"  A man does what a man's gotta do.

Finally, the bags begin to show up.  Game over.  Or just getting started...



Coach gets right into the action with his boys.

Halftime.  Waiting with anticipation for the next onslaught.  "Smoke me, Coach!"

You can only imagine some of the weight these guys hefted.


Working together to make the whole process run smoothly





Hundreds (thousands?) of bags were carefully organized for easy location.

Our Rebels stand for "Hatikva."  The TV monitor shows the new IDF recruits.
Welcome Home, to all of the new olim.  And if any of you future soldiers have a little energy left over after your tour of duty, have you heard that there is American football being played in your new homeland?  See? You didn't leave everything behind after all...

Thank you Uria, Baria, Brill, Tani, Didi, Ari, Yaniv, Jaymes, Michael, David, Yitzchak, Jake -- and anybody else who showed up later to help.  It was a pleasure working with you guys.
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