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March 9, 2018 in Rabbi Greg Harris
The hallways and exhibit spaces of the DC Convention Center were energetic with the 18,000 pro-Israel activists attending AIPAC’s annual conference this week. This is a conference I attend each year to understand the nuances of the Middle East, hear the inspirational stories of Israel such as when this tiny county acts as a first responder to global disasters including earthquakes in Mexico or caring for Syrian refugees. I also listen to the difficult stories of Israelis and Palestinians struggling for mutual security.
This year, I had the opportunity to meet Dror Tamir. While the conference was filled with power brokers and government officials, Dror was not a member of the Knesset. He was not a think tank scholar or defense expert. This energetic entrepreneur was not the director of an NGO operating in the West Bank or Africa. All those people were present but Dror is co-founder and CEO of a small Israeli start up called Hargol FoodTech (www.hargol.com). Through our conversation, Dror made me rethink some Torah verses we all know well – especially this close to Pesach.
Exodus 10:13-14 – So Moses stretched out his staff over Egypt, and the Lord made an east wind blow across the land all that day and all that night. By morning the wind had brought the locusts; they invaded all Egypt and settled down in every area of the country in great numbers. Never before had there been such a plague of locusts, nor will there ever be again.
In a few weeks, we will dip our fingers into our glass to remove a drop of wine and lessen our joy. The swarm that engulfed ancient Egypt was a destructive force.
Dror and his partners though have turned the plague of Egypt into a modern sustainable farmed product in the Galilee. Hargol FoodTech is the world’s first commercial grasshopper farm. They raise these kosher insects to create protein powder used by food and beverage companies around the world. He said there is also a great demand for the whole creature in Asia, Africa and Central America.
Even though I checked the packaging for the kosher certification, I was not disappointed there were no samples offered.
While these tiny animals almost brought ancient Egypt to its knees, Dror and his partners have figured out a way to turn grasshoppers into a profitable business with exports across the globe. This vignette stayed with me because it is another story from Israel far from the headlines yet shows the resilient nature of this little country.
Throughout this year at Beth El, we have been exploring our relationship with Israel. Israel is a place which inspires us, troubles us, grounds us, confuses us, frustrates us, spiritually lifts us, and binds us together as part of Am Yisrael – the Jewish People. We have had classes and lectures, cultural experiences and policy debates – from the political Left and Right. And more is yet to come.
Israel is so much more than the quick headlines of the Times or Post. It is far more complicated than a sound bite or news flash. So join me and the other clergy in learning more about Israel and the region. Let’s talk about what moves us as well as our concerns. That is the way for building the strongest type of love, a love built with purpose and intention – a love of Israel, Ahavat Yisrael.
Before I met Dror, I knew Israel was happening… but now I know it is also hopping.
(I could not resist!)
PS: Mark April 15 on your calendar for Benny Morris – Perhaps the leading historian of modern Israel in the world, Benny Morris speaks about “Israel’s 1948 War of Independence and Its Aftermath” as part of the Israel Distinguished Speakers Series.