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March 28, 2003 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-03-28

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Israel's Irrepressible Tug


oalition forces had begun to bomb Baghdad, and
hundreds of would-be attackers, Larry reminded.
Palestinian protesters sympathetic to Iraqi dictator
In case they confront the effects of weapons of mass
Saddam Hussein were urging a retaliatory strike
destruction, Larry and Shirley maintain a well-equipped
against Tel Aviv, Israel's largest metropolitan area.
bomb shelter in their basement; they move their computer
But from his winter home near Tel Aviv, Larry Loewenthal
there each night.
opted to tell me about how his 2-year-old granddaughter,
They also keep gas marks handy, whether home or away, in
Ilana, sings the alef-bet when he picks her up from preschool.
keeping with the spirit of a government mandate. When out
"It's a spectacular feeling," he said during the early hours of
and about, however, they see few adults, and only slightly
Operation Iraqi Freedom.
more kids, with their masks in tow.
Larry is an eye doctor who also mentors Israeli eye doctors
Larry wonders if his mask would help anyway should he
in cataract surgery. His wife, Shirley, helped him run his prac- need to use it.
tice before she retired to become a full-time
Until Islam recognizes Judaism and lets Jews live in an
bubbie. They made partial aliyah in 1996.
independent state of Israel, he's pessimistic. about lasting
Today, the Young Israel of Southfield cou-
Mideast peace.
ple spends half the year in the house they
"In spite of all this," he said, "our family's resolve to live
built in Ra'anana, north of Tel Aviv. They
here and raise our children grows steadily stronger. This is
live in Southfield the rest of the year.
truly our land even with all of its internal and external prob-
They feel blessed to have four generations
of family together in Israel. Son Avraham, a
graphic designer, and his wife, Rebecca, live
Family Ties
ROBERT A. in a 450-year-old house in the artists' colony
Over the past seven years, Larry and Shirley extended their
of the holy mountain city Safed. Daughter
stay in Israel from two weeks to six months. They first came
Lisa and her Israeli husband, Moshe Sambol,
a software programmer,
in 1967 during the Six-Day War.
live ha. Ra'anana with
"The longer one lives here," said Larry,
their two children. Larry's parents,
"the more one's roots get firmly embedded
Renee and Erry Loewenthal, are visiting
in its soil. Not only does the land take hold
amid the uncertainty and limited sun-
of us, friendships likewise play an important
shine in Ra'anana. Avraham's brother,
Jeff, lives in Denver with his wife, Barb,
He added, "Here, we really feel that we
and their two children but they antici-
are mishpachah, family. From wherever we
pate making aliyah.
originally came, our basic love of Israel is
"To see our grandchildren here in the
the same.
Larry and Shirley Loewenthal
land promised to our forefathers is
As war clouds thickened over Iraq,
amazing," said Larry, a devout Zionist.
Shirley recounted the fun and frolic of
Purim, Rdanana style: decorations, costumes and trucked-in
Both Larry and Shirley are on the Detroit Friends of Bar-
Ilan board and he's part of a study group on the university
campus near Tel Aviv.
"The celebration of Purim tonight seems a bit ominous,"
Shirley said. "But like always, we Jews will celebrate life with
all our hearts and souls, knowing that we somehow will sur-
God's Pull
The joy Larry derives from Israel doesn't insulate him from
How sad that is: While Shirley was celebrating life,
the threat of terror, which is why friends in the States say he's
Palestinians with a twisted sense of Islam were celebrating the
nuts for putting his family in harm's way.
death of their children as "martyrs" in unprovoked attacks
He knows President George W. Bush seeks a regime change
against Jews, perceived as "infidels."
in Iraq and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is angling for a
As allied bombs pelted Baghdad, Avraham Loewenthal
cease-fire with the Palestinians. He knows the consequences
reflected on being a Jew living and praying in Israel: 'Am I
of failure on either front.
afraid? I would be afraid to be anywhere else."
When Purim ended the evening of March 18, Larry refo-
His wife, Rebecca, concisely cut to the core: "Living here is
cused on Palestinian terror. It has taken the lives of more than being connected to what really matters in life. I feel blessed
760 Israeli and foreign civilians over the past 30 months;
beyond all words to be here in Israel. Its no small thing to be
nearly 4,500 more were hurt but survived. The slaughter has
living the prayer of countless generations."
strained Israel's will.
As the winds of war against Saddam became gale force,
"I realize that many Jews have lost their lives or have seen
Shirley Loewenthal raised her voice in song with 500 other
their loved ones lose their lives," he said. "But this is the land
women of Ra'anana at a post-Purim musical in memory of
that HaShem promised us. To see my parents, children and
Ari Weiss, a local soldier who recently died defending Israel.
grandchildren here is the fulfillment of a promise made to
"I can't begin to tell you the emotions passing through me
our people several thousand years ago. What a privilege."
as I sang these songs of our people . — songs that I have been
I was struck when Larry said U.S. Jews seem more con-
singing since I was little girl," she said.
cerned than Israelis about snipers, bombers and other terror-
Notably, even warfare on multiple levels hasn't diminished
ists trying to seize the ancestral homeland of Jews as theirs.
the resolve of people who embrace Israel as the Jewish state.
"We Israelis have resolved to no longer tolerate the homi-
As Shirley's daughter, Lisa Sambol, put it: "Where else
cide bombers and to do whatever is necessary to put a stop
could we possibly want to raise our children than in a place
this mindless killing," he said.
where Judaism — both as a religion and a culture — will
Sharon has turned up the defensive heat and thwarted
become so deeply ingrained in them?" I-1



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