It’s great to have great teammates.

Back on the basketball court during my youth, I was lucky to play alongside shorter, quicker guys who could shoot the ball, and taller, stronger guys who could rebound and play defense. My job – as someone who was neither fast nor tough – was to be the klutz who ensured that we never won any championship games!

Even the most exceptional athletes need teammates to win the big games. As unique a talent as Michael Jordan was, he only reached his full potential as a player when surrounded by a fantastic supporting cast and the mentoring of his ingenious coach.

As a Jew living in Israel, I appreciate my teammates. Ones like Shlomo who is pictured below (I'm the guy with the long bushy beard).

My neighbor Shlomo and me in synagogue early one morning

Like many Israeli men, Shlomo is called up for reserve duty in the army every year, forced to be away from his family, his job, and his studies as an engineer.

As we prepared to head our separate ways, I took a moment to thank him for his service in the Israeli Defense Forces. Shlomo and I live very different lives, but I am grateful to have a connection with such a fine man.

As a neighbor, I appreciate the work he does protecting our community and the surrounding cities.

As a father and a husband, I know how hard it is to be apart from my wife and my kids and I respect how challenging this must be.

As a psychiatrist who has treated victims of terrorism and combat veterans experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, I recognize the significant risk that Shlomo takes in defending our great nation.

As an Israeli citizen, I am honored to know that our army includes exceptional individuals such as Shlomo who do their utmost to save lives.

As a Jew, I respect that each of us have our own individual path and means of serving our country, our community, and ultimately our Creator.

And I am honored that Shlomo respects my contribution to the Jewish people, as a physician in the community and as someone who learns Torah in the merit of my fellow Jews whether they’re beside me in the study hall, at work, or engaged in active army service.

Shlomo is a great teammate and he inspires me to work on becoming a better teammate.

Because we're all playing on the same team, I decided to walk up to introduce myself to Effy, the Ethiopian-Jewish traffic cop who has been patrolling the area around my office every day for the past three months in the burning hot sun. I let him know that if he ever needs a glass of water that he could knock on my door and come right on in.

Effy smiled and told me that Ari’s juice stand on the corner was the neighborhood’s best secret when it came to getting hydrated. I thanked him for the tip and headed over to introduce myself to Ari – a bald-headed fellow dressed in rainbow colors – to introduce myself. Effy was thrilled I’d taken his advice and decided to join me for the house special: a spicy carrot-orange-ginger juice that burned off half of my tongue.

Ari and Effy shared a good-hearted laugh at my expense and I scored a more mild version of the locally-famous beverage on the house. It was only 10 AM but I was already enjoying my day with all sorts of fantastic teammates.

So for every piece of breaking news highlighting the seemingly insurmountable differences that exist between different populations here in Israel, here is the kind of headline that belongs at the top of page: “Local Jews enjoy being neighbors and respect each other.”

Because in the end, there is very little that separates us and so much more that unites us.