By Rabbi Micha Odenheimer
Last week tragedy hit Nepal when a freak snowstorm trapped hundreds of trekkers, including tens of Israelis, in the mountain pass of the popular Annapurna range. The death toll is now over 40, including 3 young Israelis, and many more trekkers were airlifted out suffering from hypothermia, frostbite and other injuries. Read more.
The Tevel staff and volunteers were among the first in the field to offer assistance. I spent Simchat Torah and Shabbat at the hospital with our staff members and fellows from our year-long program, the Tevel Fellowship, supporting the survivors, several of whom were suffering from post-trauma. We distributed warm meals, blankets, SIM cards and lots of hugs and encouragement. We helped the victims of severe frostbite get the medical attention they needed, while connecting the trauma victims with one of Israel’s top experts in post-trauma. Our fellows also helped man the embassy hotline through which worried family members could receive updated information about their loved ones.
In the face of this tragedy we were all inspired by the sense of solidarity among the Israelis and the Nepalis with whom we have developed a deep and strong relationship through our work. Nevo Shinaar, one of our group leaders, summed it up by posting
Nature is stronger than all of us. It’s easy to forget that simple but critical fact. However how we respond and show are humanity is entirely under our control. I tend to see myself as a lone wolf, but today I am filled with a sense of hope for the world. The compassion and caring that we have seen here shouldn’t be taken for granted. After all, that’s what family is for.
Rabbi Micha Odenheimer is the founding director of Tevel b’Tzedek.