The Peace of Mind organization celebrated the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem on Wednesday, May 24, with a screening of the film “On the Map” at the Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva in Edison. Proceeds from the event will benefit the group, which helps Israeli Defense Force combat veterans heal their physical and emotional wounds.
More than 55 sponsors signed up for the pre-screening dessert reception featuring basketball star Tal Brody, who autographed basketballs and other memorabilia brought by attendees. Brody, an American/Israeli former player for Maccabi Tel Aviv and current Goodwill Ambassador of Israel, spoke following the film as well, reminiscing about his last time in Edison and his high school basketball team winning the NJ State championship.
David Goldfarb of Highland Park came to support Peace of Mind and see the movie. “The movie represents a major part of my childhood,” he said, as he presented books to be autographed, featuring Brody, that he had received for his bar mitzvah shortly after the team’s big win.
Max Wisotsky, also of Highland Park, said that Israeli soldiers are incredible people and we should support them any way we can. He has supported Peace of Mind in the past and will continue to do so.
Peace of Mind was developed in Jerusalem to help soldiers transition to civilian life by spending a week in a warm, loving, supportive Jewish community where they relax, have fun and participate in therapy. The Highland Park/Edison area was first introduced to Peace of Mind in 2012 when a group of soldiers was hosted by Anshe Emeth in New Brunswick. Groups also came in 2014 and 2016, and the local group’s goal is to raise enough money to host another group in 2018. The soldiers come mostly from elite combat units who serve five or more years protecting the state of Israel. Event Chair Roseanne Koenigson noted that the work they do “helps us and allows us to practice Judaism in the Diaspora.” She added that the soldiers “come to our community as strangers and leave as family.” Interestingly, many of the soldiers had no idea how much Diaspora Jews love and support them.
The Peace of Mind model brings soldiers who have been serving in the same unit or team together for two-day preparatory workshops, the week-long overseas program and follow-up work over a six-month period. Participants are assessed on their emotional resilience and well-being during the program and are provided with the tools for a successful transition to civilian life, which is difficult for many.
Edison resident Rivka Adler described her experiences growing up close to the Jordanian border pre-1967. She described the events of the war that unified Jerusalem, as well as how, when the battle was over, thousands flocked to the newly accessible Kotel on Shavuot the following week.
The movie covers the story of Maccabi Tel Aviv’s famous 1977 win of the European Cup and how the underdog team beat perennial powerhouse teams from Russia, Spain and Italy. The game was particularly important to Israelis who were still recovering from the 1972 massacre of their Olympic athletes in Munich, the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and the 1976 plane hijacking at Entebbe.
Brody, who abandoned a potential NBA career to play in Israel, was one of the team’s several American members. The film interspersed archived footage of the championship with interviews and footage from the present day. The title comes from a remark from Brody to a reporter after a win. “Israel is on the map, not just in sport, but in everything!”
More information about Peace of Mind can be found at www.Traumaweb.org. To make donations or for information about hosting a Peace of Mind group, please contact American Friends of Herzog Hospital c/o Koenigson, 221 Washington Avenue, Edison, NJ 08817.
By Deborah Melman