VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Clutching a recent photograph of his 100-year-old mother surrounded by daughters Emma and Esther, Virginia Beach-based Rabbi Israel Zoberman brought it to his lips and gently kissed the image.
The rabbi also said aloud his mother’s first name, pronounced “HA-see,” which means “God spared my life.” Chasi Zoberman, who lives in Haifa, Israel, survived the Holocaust.
“Hmmm, we love you. May you continue to be strong, Mom. You’re a hero. Mom, you are a hero,” said Israel Zoberman.
Israel Zoberman hopes his mother, who turns 101 years old this year, will remain strong. Recently, more than 3,000 Hamas rockets have been fired on the rabbi’s home country.
“It’s so hard in so many ways right now. When your fellow citizens are under attack, you never know where those rockets are going to land,” said Israel Zoberman.
Israel Zoberman speaks to his mother daily by phone and says so far Haifa, where his mother lives alone, has been spared.
But Chasi Zoberman has not been spared the flashbacks, which include a young woman on the run from the Nazis.
“She remembers the German bombs that pursued her even when she was running away from her home,” said Israel Zoberman, who is the founder and inspirational leader of Temple Lev Tikvah, which translates to “heart of hope.”
Israel Zoberman has visited his home country before during times of conflict. With the latest violence, now on its ninth day, the reaction in the United States is taking a different tone. Days after Israal bombed a building that housed the Associated Press and other news organizations, more than two dozen U.S. Senators, led by Jon Ossoff, a freshman Democrat from Georgia, are calling on Israel for an immediate cease-fire, and a human rights group has accused Israel of committing apartheid.
President Joe Biden on Monday expressed support for an immediate cease-fire but did not demand one from Israel.
Israel Zoberman prays for a lasting solution.
“Our prayer and hope is that the Arabs will replace their current leadership [Hamas] with leadership that is committed to have a Democracy instead of a dictatorship,” he said.
If the airline doesn’t cancel his flight due to the violence, Israel Zoberman plans to leave June 1 for a month-long visit with his beloved mother and other family members.
When Chasi Zoberman was born more than 100 years ago, there were no records to document the date, location, and time of her birth. This being the case, the family will celebrate her 101st birthday during the Festival or Feast of Tabernacles in September.