The Amish are here

From a fascinating article at the Times of Israel:

Thursday was the first day of Hanukkah in Jerusalem, and song filled the corridors of the chief rabbi’s office. Ultra-Orthodox men wearing black hats rose from their desks, drawn by the voices down the hall, singing about Jerusalem as they waited to meet Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau. Married Israeli women in long skirts and wigs poked their heads — and their camera phones — into the room, witnessing something they had never seen before.

More than 30 Amish Christians stood, some with arms raised, many with eyes shut. As they did at every opportunity on their week-long mission to Israel, they were singing religious hymns, in English and German, in perfect pitch.

The group is unique in the traditional Amish world. Brought to the country by Keshet, an Israeli educational tourism company, they were on their third Reconciliation Mission to Israel to Israel to build bridges with the Jewish people and show remorse for what they called the Amish community’s apathy at generations of Jewish suffering.

“We, the Amish and Anabaptist people turned away from the Jewish nation, while they were in their darkest hour of need,” reads their mission statement. “We hardened our hearts against them, we left them — never lifting our voices in protest against the atrocities that were committed against them. We want to publicly repent of this and acknowledge our support of Israel.”

The Chief Rabbi’s contribution to the piece includes this:

“I want to add warmth, to add light, all my life,” said Lau as he explained the lighting of Hanukkah menorah. “I can’t sing at your level, but if I could do it, maybe I’d sit with you,“ he joked.

It’s a huge improvement on the last joke of his I heard about.

You can see the whole article, here.