From Azerbaijan to Israel, With Love

by Baila Olidort - BAKU, AZERBAIJAN

January 5, 2004

Jewish children in the Muslim-Shiite city of Baku, Azerbaijan, live by customs, language and a mentality vastly different from that of their counterparts in Israel.

But by taking the initiative to launch a project of communication between themselves and their Israeli peers, the students of Chabad’s Ohr Avner School in Baku are discovering that it is not an unbridgeable gap. Rather, they are learning of a shared empathy and essential bonds that run far deeper than the cultural and geographic differences would suggest.

Under the supervision of Mrs. Zahava Gostinski, principal of the 200-student Ohr Avner Chabad school in Baku, students from grades 1-11 sent their own creative works of art, letters and greetings to students at the Chabad Sinai School in Rishon Lezion—a city outside of Tel-Aviv that has not been spared the trauma of Palestinian terror attacks—a theme reflected in many of the communications between the students.

Moshe, a first grader at the Chabad school in Baku writes: “I pray that Hashem ends the terror and makes you all happy.”

Roman, a 10th grader in Israel, writes, “I was in the Dolphinarium 10 minutes before the explosion."

Identifying closely with their fears, David, a 7th grader says: “I know that terror is frightening. Here in Baku there was a bomb in the subway once and it was frightening to go into the city. It was an awfully frightening feeling. Don’t be afraid. I love you."

On another note, Diana, a second grader in Baku expresses kinship with her peers in Israel: “I feel like I am in Israel because we have a Jewish school here where I am learning to be Jewish.”

Mrs. Devorah Porat, the principal of the Sinai School in Israel, said that the students of her school were profoundly moved by the warmth and love and close identification expressed by their peers in Baku, and intend to keep the communication going through electronic email.

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