News Update

Security forces captured the 2 remaining terrorists out fo the 4 who escaped from the maximum security prison over 2 weeks ago. The terrorists were captured during a raid on a house in the Arab city of Jenin in the northern West Bank early yesterday morning.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke on the phone to the Swedish Foreign Minister today. It was the first time in 7 years that the foreign ministers of both countries have spoken. since Sweden became the first major European country to officially recognized a Palestinian state in 2014. Since then Israel has refused to allow FM Linde and her predecessor Margot Wallstrom to visit the country. FM Lapid tweeted that the phone call, “symbolizes the relaunching of relations at this level.”

The Health Ministry today reported 6,456 new corona cases on Thursday, with an infection rate of 5.17%. At least 714 patients are in severe condition (70% of whom are unvaccinated), of whom 194 are ventilated.  7,541 have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic. Health Ministry data pointed to an alarming surge in cases in Israel’s Arab sector, with 40% of all new cases detected among Israeli Arabs. Data also indicates that 43% of all recent infections were recorded among children aged eleven and younger — an age group that is not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine at this stage. Another 14% of diagnoses were detected among Israelis aged 12–18 and another 4% among those aged 60 and over.

Israel will continue offering the COVID booster to all age groups eligible to be vaccinated, despite the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation to give the third jab only to those aged 65 and over, and those with a weakened immune system. The FDA said that there is currently insufficient data on the safety of the third dose, especially for teens. According to the Health Ministry, the decision to continue offering the booster to the wider population stems from the surge in cases of COVID-19, due to the Delta variant and the differing infection rates between Israel and the U.S. So far over 3 million Israelis have received the 3rd dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Almost 6 million have received the first 2 doses.

The government announced today that COVID-19 patients who have recovered from the disease within the last three months will be exempt from presenting a negative PCR test before entering Israel.

Israel’s national baseball team won a silver medal Sunday in the European Championships, losing 9-4 to the Netherlands in the final.

The holiday of Sukkot (Tabernacles) begins tonight, last for 7 days and is followed by the holiday of Shmini Atzeret – Simchat Torah (which share one day in Israel and are 2 days everywhere else). During Sukkot Jews live (eat and sleep) in a hut-like structure called a Sukkah.

The Talmud states two reasons for the mitzvah of living in the Sukkah for seven days.

The first is to commemorate that our ancestors dwelled in Sukkahs in the wilderness. The second is to remember the “clouds of glory” that surrounded and protected the Jews in the desert. The Talmud seems to lean towards the second explanation. If this is the case, then why do we use a hut to represent the clouds? Wouldn’t it make more sense for us to live out in the open air, under the clouds? Wouldn’t that give us more of a feeling of complete dependence on the protection given us by God?

Although, in truth, living out “under the clouds” does starkly represent total dependence on God, real life isn’t as clear cut. We all try to build structures to provide us with security and protection. We live in these structures and feel safe and in control. We view these structures as permanent and without them we could not function. The reality, however, is that our structures are really just flimsy huts that create for us the illusion of permanence and security. They fall apart when we least expect them too.

The Sukkah that we live in for seven days reminds us that our own structures of security – our houses, careers, social status – are just temporary. They last for a week, a month, a year, several years, but are then taken down. The Sukkah reminds us that our real security and protection comes not from the walls that we build but from the graces of God.

May we all be blessed with the wisdom to differentiate between the security that is true and comes only from God and the false security of the hut that just looks real, but is only an illusion.

Taken from my book Deep Waters.

IsraelAM will be on vacation, along with the rest of Israel, until Wednesday, September 29. 

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