I know I’m not the only person on Earth to whom this happens.
You hear of disaster striking a far-off land — and it happens to be somewhere you’ve visited, where you have developed a lot of friends; you have a certain familiarity with this place and you worry yourself to near sickness about your friends’ well-being.
Fires have exploded in Israel. Flames are torching communities where I was able to spend a good bit of time in the late spring of 2009.
Haifa, Zichron Ya’achov, Karmiel, Modi’in. I know all those places. I now am in an official state of worry over friends who opened their homes to me and to my traveling companions.
I was there in May-June 2009 as part of a Rotary International Group Study Exchange team. We toured the country from stem to stern; from Nahariyah in the north to Eilat in the south. From the Med to the Golan Heights. We peered into Gaza and saw bomb damage in places like Sderot and Ashkelon.
And, oh yes, we saw the holy sites in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Galilee, Caesarea, Masada and Tel Aviv.
Now I am worrying about Miri, Lennie and Selma, Oded … you name them. They all became part of my life for four weeks. They well might be in danger now as fire whips through these communities.
The Israelis are good at a lot of things. I am hoping they know how to fight these wildfires. Rest assured, they’re getting help from Russia, Greece, Italy, Turkey and Cyprus.
All I can do from this place far away is to wish them Godspeed and pray that my friends remain safe.