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      Fundamentally Freund
      by Michael Freund
      An alternative approach to Israeli political commentary.
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      Michael Freund is Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), which reaches out and assists "lost Jews" seeking to return to the Jewish people. He writes a syndicated column and feature stories for the Jerusalem Post. Previously, he served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Israeli Prime Minister´s Office under former premier Benjamin Netanyahu. A native of New York, he holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He has lived in Israel for the past decade.
      Shevat 4, 5765, 1/14/2005

      Party Time vs. Prayer Time


      Well, it has been quite a week here in Israel – Abu Mazen was elected Chairman of the Palestinian Authority (that’s Chairman, and not President as much of the media would have us think), Ariel Sharon succeeded in forming a new coalition government thanks to the far left, and a Palestinian suicide attack last night claimed the lives of six Israelis.

      Thank G-d the weekend is almost here.

      But despite all the gloom engendered by the events of the past few days, there is a reason for all of us to remain resolutely and uncompromisingly optimistic. Take a look at the following picture:

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      The photo above is from the prayer rally that took place in front of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, this past Monday, which was attended by tens of thousands of people. At first glance, it might just seem like any other protest event. But take a closer look at the faces, and you will see that much of the crowd was made up of young people, especially those in their teens and early twenties.

      Why, you might ask, does this matter? Well, I think the answer is really very simple. In many other Western countries, young people often gather en masse for what can best be described as less than noble motivations, often involving sex, drugs and rock-and-roll.

      But here in Israel, as this picture shows, there are still thousands of young men and women willing to give up a chunk of their free time not to party, but to pray – to pray for their fellow Jews, their well-being and their safety. Look at the intensity on their faces, the deep concentration, the emotional outpouring, the manner in which they are pleading and beseeching G-d to have mercy on His people and His Land.

      And therein lies our real strength – for no matter what may end up happening here in the Middle East in the next few months, we can all rest assured that the Jewish people do indeed have a future, and a bright one at that.

      This picture, I think, says it all.