As the 2023 Israel-Hamas war continues to grip the world’s attention, Southwest Florida residents, like Paula Federman, are closely following the conflict with deep concern.
“My connection with Israel is very deep,” Federman said. “The first time I went there, I was 17 years old.”
As a young woman traveling in Israel, Federman initially spent two months on a kibbutz. She later extended her stay to visit family members on both her mother’s and father’s sides. She vividly recalled her experience at a classical music concert in 1975, where she heard a piece by Smetana, the composer of Israel’s national anthem, Hatikvah.
“That was in 1975, but I remember it like I could hear it today,” she said.
Over the years, Federman maintained contact with her Israeli relatives, gaining insight into their love for the country and its spiritual significance.
“They all observe the Sabbath, and they really believe that this is the country that God led them to,” Federman said. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful country, a very spiritual country.”
While Federman’s family in Israel is safe, they’ve had to take shelter during air raids.
“Those who were affected and who escaped Hamas are very traumatized,” she said. “But the rest of the country is also traumatized because it’s not normal to live with bombs, and rockets hitting civilian areas of your country.”
Reflecting on the broader impact of the war, Federman acknowledged the historical trauma within the Jewish community and the rising global antisemitism.
“I am feeling very worried, and very, very traumatized in a way because this situation has echoes of history,” Federman said. “I am the daughter of two Holocaust survivors. I am the granddaughter, the niece, the cousin of hundreds of Holocaust victims.”
In the midst of turmoil, Federman’s fervent hope remains one of peace for Israel and a world where people can live without fear and uncertainty.
“I just wish for peace in the world and for Israel, and for everyone to feel like they are free to live in their own land,” Federman said.
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