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The Makeshift Schools of the Dead Sea – Solidarity Mission Reflections

by Rabbi Dr. Moshe Drelich

In the tapestry of my life, woven with countless threads of visits to Israel over the past 30 years, one recent journey with the SAR Mission stands out as a vivid and transformative chapter. From the moment I touched down at Ben Gurion airport to the bittersweet departure back to the States, the experience was a rollercoaster of emotions shared with the 70-strong SAR family.

Amidst the remarkable moments, one encounter at the Royal Hotel in the Dead Sea left an indelible mark on my heart. Walking through the makeshift schools set up in the hotel, we were introduced to two extraordinary souls – Sholomit and Mia, volunteer teachers dedicated to nurturing the minds of children from displaced families.

Sholomit, a retired teacher from Kiray Gad, responded to a call on Facebook for educators. Five days a week, she transforms a hotel into a classroom, pouring her wisdom into fourth graders. Married to a police officer and supported by her three grown daughters, Sholomit embodies selflessness. Then there’s Mia, a 21-year-old in the throes of acquiring her teaching credentials. Both exude enthusiasm, armed with a clear goal: to provide a warm, nurturing, and safe haven for their students.

In these makeshift classrooms, reminiscent of SAR Academy, challenges abound. Children, once strangers from the same town, grapple with restlessness, often checking on the well-being of siblings. The trauma they’ve endured surfaces in their behavior and reflections. Establishing a consistent routine is a hurdle when attendance is irregular, and the hotel life lacks the private spaces families need.

Yet, in the face of adversity, what resonates is the boundless love and tireless dedication of Sholomit and Mia. In my 37 years of educational exposure, I’ve witnessed nothing quite like it. They embody the essence of Mishle’s wisdom, recognizing that the first step to effective teaching is winning the trust of the heart. Only then does the heart open to receive.

Sholomit and Mia are on a mission, responding to the call of service to their people and their nation. Their devotion is unparalleled, reflecting the best of Am Yisrael. It’s in their empathic hearts and sympathetic ears that they meet children at their emotional core. Their love knows no bounds, and in their efforts, they weave a tapestry of hope for the future.

As I reflect on this encounter, I am uplifted by the shining examples of humanity in Sholomit and Mia. In their dedication and personal sacrifice, I find hope for a brighter tomorrow for the future of the Jewish People, where the resilience of the human spirit triumphs over adversity. Their story is a testament to the enduring strength and love that binds us all as one family.

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