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Footsteps in History

Footsteps in History

As I hiked along the trail, I was amazed by the silence. There is something quietly powerful about walking in the steps of others. Who were these people? Where are they now? Are they happy? These people who knew hardships that I will never know. Sitting at the top of Wunania, looking at the vast landscape of shrubs and hills, I realized how difficult a trip it must have been for the Jews who had to walk to Sudan before they could go home to Israel.

This month, I was fortunate to spend time in Gondar, Ethiopia, volunteering with Jewish Healthcare International. The task was to provide medical screening for the remaining Ethiopians making aliyah to Israel in 2013.

Operation Dove’s Wing will come to an end in 2013, and I understand that these are the last of the individuals who are eligible for aliyah. I can only imagine the happiness on the faces of their friends and family members waiting for them when they arrive.

The efforts of Jewish Healthcare International will allow Israel to plan for the medical needs of the individuals arriving in 2013. For some, an ambulance will be waiting for the plane. For others, there are appointments with specialists that will have been scheduled, and for the unborn, prenatal care will begin on arrival.

There are challenging times ahead for these people. Everything about their world is about to change. Their community and way of living will change the most, but so will their religion. Many of these individuals are of Jewish lineage but are not yet Jewish. I too have changed for having known them. To see their suffering and the great medical needs that they have has once again made me grateful not only for the technology and medical care that we have here, but also for my Jewish community and the sense of religious stability that I have in my life every day.

Leanna Cossman is a registered nurse living in Illinois.

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