Sinai Temple was fortunate to host the Maccabi Haifa basketball team this week, as they prepared to take on the Los Angeles Clippers.
After a clinic with Sinai Temple students, I had the opportunity to interview the head coach, Barak Peleg. When I asked if he could beat the Clippers, he responded, “With a rabbi’s blessing!” The 300 guests in attendance stood and recited the shehcheyanu blessing. Peleg responded, “I know that one, because I grew up religious!”
Barak Peleg grew up on Kibbutz Lavi, a religious community. When I explained to him that I also had family on a religious kibbutz, the Jewish geography game intensified. After two minutes, he let me know that my aunt Rachel was his English teacher and has been friends with my family for the last three decades. When I informed my aunt of my new friend, she responded, “He was also the best friend of Nadav Milo, of blessed memory, who fell in combat in 1997.”
As I researched Nadav Milo, I discovered a 24 year old Major in the Israeli Defense Forces, giving his life to protect his country and Jews around the world.
Our Torah tells us that the punishment for the generation of the Tower of Babel was a division of common language. Yet, we as Jews have kept the common language of Torah. Each month, as we bless the new month, we recite chaverim kol yisrael, as Jews, we are one family, from every end of the earth.
This week, I expected to meet an Israeli basketball coach, living his dream on the STAPLES Center court. In reality, I gained a friend and knowledge of another hero, Nadav Milo.
The shehecheyanu blessing may not have made the score any closer last night, but it did bring two communities into sacred relationship.