A week has passed since the Krav Maga course with Moshe Katz began in Mitzpe Nevo, the group consisting of 22 people from 13 different countries has unified into one and has begun to accumulate stories and experiences. I promised to follow the group and collect experiences of those who have never visited Israel before.
This week they were exposed to the Israeli martial art, Krav Maga, and met Jewish bravery and heroism though the spellbinding and fascinating instruction of Moshe Katz; at Masada, Yad Va Shem Holocaust Memorial, Ammunition Hill, the Old City of Jerusalem, and more.
For most of them, knowledge of Judaism, life in the The Land (Israel) and Israelism, has come from the world media, which as we know is on the whole, highly biased, very unfriendly towards us, and of course stereotyped. All of them have fascinating stories and each one has his/her own impressions. From the group I selected one young woman who has her own unique perspective of Israel and the Jewish nation, and described them in a particularly moving and emotional way. Yuriko Tadanobu, law student, Japanese on her father's side, Chilean on her mother's side, lives in Chile.
She and her partner Ramon arrived for the two week course after hearing positive feedback about the course and the nature of the instruction. They first met Moshe at a course he taught in Argentina. They spent 14 hours on a bus from their home town to Tucuman, and then another 2 hours driving up the mountains with the Argentinian Krav Maga club. A week ago they told me that ten minutes after the course with Moshe began they realized that the long and difficult journey was worth the effort and that they would also make it to Israel for Tour and Train. "I trained in Asian martial arts, there smiling was not allowed, we were always told to wipe that smile off your face, there is no place for smiles here. With Moshe it is different, even with tough training and Krav Maga there is always room for a smile and some laughter. We prefer it this way."
Yuriko: "Israel is amazing. Until I came here I was certain that this is a place with tension and constant warfare, that is the common belief n Chile. Everyone believes that. I thought Israelis live in tents. I am very surprised. Maaleh Adumim is a beautiful city, so quiet and peaceful, the exact opposite of what I thought. Everyone here is so pleasant, so kind and warm. The residents of the neighborhood approach us and welcome us; they show a great deal of interest in us. This week for example, when we were in the local Makolet (Grocery store, Reuveni), the owner gave us bananas free of charge", she tells with glowing eyes and a huge beautiful smile. And she adds: "When we went for pizza at Pizza Nevo, the manager changed the TV station to the Spanish channel, just for us, in our honor."
She relates to the sites they visited and says: "Perhaps some see these sites just as tourist sites but I saw something else there, something much more powerful. "
"The places we toured with Moshe made me see the Jewish people in a totally different light. I never understood how much pain the Jewish people suffered."
She cites for example the group trip to Masada, the last Jewish stronghold against the Romans in the year 73. "I toured there and I dove into the period as if through a time tunnel. I felt the battle. I felt the struggle for life, for liberty, I cried there and connected to the stories Moshe told us."
Yad Va Shem, the Holocaust Memorial, also left a deep impression on her and she saw it from a very surprising point of view. "I felt very connected at Yad Va Shem, it was very emotional and I was shocked by the enormity of the outrage and the tragedy. But in particular I was impressed and favorably surprised by you, the Jewish nation, who knows how to say Thank You. After all these tragedies, you are a people who knows how to stop and say thank you to the few, who despite everything, did something to help the Jewish people, you thank the Righteous among the Gentiles. At the entrance to the museum before the actual museum who honors the dead, you see Thank You that honors the living. Despite the pain the first thing you see is Thank You by the Jewish People to the world. This says so much about you. Yad Va Shem is not only a memorial to the Jews killed but also to the Gentiles who helped save a few Jews.
Although she is not Jewish, she told that the place that inspired and moved her in particular was the Kotel, the last remaining wall of the Second Temple of the Jews, destroyed by the Romans in the year 70. This, she said, contrasted strongly with her feelings about the Church of Holy Sepulcher. "As a Christian I thought I would be inspired and emotional from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the holy site of the Christians. I saw there a group of hypocrites kissing the tomb because that is what is expected. It did not appear to be from the heart, it did not look real to me, I had this feeling that they were doing this so that others would see. When we reached the Kotel on the other hand, I saw people standing at the Wall/Kotel, putting a hand on the Wall and praying; they were connecting to the place from their hearts. It appeared to me as coming from a place that is very real and true."
"I will return home to Chile and I can tell people, with confidence, that Israel is a country that is good to live in, that there is no fear here. There is a very strong feeling of people who want to live in a better world and struggle to achieve that end."