Posted in Uncategorized

Just Stop

Just stop. I don’t understand how the world is filled with so much hate. Why is it that we are living in a time and place that people hate each other so much that they are willing to kill them. This is an issue around the entire world, not just an Israeli thing. Just reading the news- it is just about who has killed who. What about a world, where it is who has helped who? What if we took all of our energy and put it towards helping one another? What if we took all of this anger and put it towards helping our own? I really want to believe that the world can be and is a good and beautiful place, but when hearing and reading about all of what is happening, it is very hard to do. 

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend- and I had no words. How am I supposed to respond to:

A:i hope you are doing ok
B:I’m not in gaza right now, so that’s…better
B:I dunno. I’m never going to be the same
B:Combat is a nightmare
What is the right response? How am I supposed to comfort them? Can I even do that? I don’t know what it was like (thank God), and I’m not even in the country when all this is going on. Who else will “never be the same” because of what is going on in their country- whether they are in the army or just a civilian whose daily routine is partially dictated by bombs and rockets and killing?
Since all of this stuff in Israel has started, I’ve started saying Tehillim. It is not me to be so spiritual- but I don’t know what else to do. I am not sure if saying Tehillim helps or not- but I do know that it can’t hurt anything. (This all also makes me question God- if there is a God then I want to know why this is happening, and I hope that my prayers are heard. And if there isn’t a God, then maybe all this saying of Tehillim is for me to feel like I am doing something. I’m not sure.) But with the saying of Tehillim, I’ve been having some problems. Some of them are about calling out to God, asking for help, asking for change, asking for us to be able to overcome our enemies. But yesterday, after I had this conversation with my friend- it was all about praising God, about all the good that God does in the world, about the good that God does for the Jewish people. Yes, I need to figure out a way to see the beauty and the good that is happening. But how can I be praising God in a time like this. I feel like I am angry at God for allowing this to be the situation of the world. I am angry at God that children are being murdered. I am angry at God that my friends have to put themselves in very dangerous situations. I am angry at God that He is allowing fathers of newborn children to die. I am angry at God that for whatever reason, the only way that people can see that they can create peace is with war. 
I hope for myself and others around the world- that we are all able to see some beauty and goodness in the world. And more so, not only to see the beauty, but to be helpers in the creation of beauty and goodness. And hopefully soon, good can overcome the evil, and people will be able to walk around without fear. 
May the Holy One, blessed be he, renew it unto us and unto all his people, the house of Israel, for life and peace, for gladness and joy, for salvation​ and consolation; and let us say, Amen.
Posted in Decisions, Israel, Life

I Don’t Know Anymore

I’m not sure what to do anymore. Every morning the first thing that I do is check the news, and unfortunately all I ever see is a new number of the people who were killed and injured while I sleep, or what places are now destroyed, and what other countries are trying to kick out the Jewish people (or Zionists). As one of the Israelis in camp put it, “every day another one of us loses a friend” (out of the 30 Mishlachat members, 3 have had friends killed at this point).

I am not sure how to comfort them. What are they supposed to do while here in America? They are playing sports, teaching swimming, going to the diner- while their friends and families are fighting. They want to mourn, but when? And how? And one said to me, when I asked her if there is anything I can do, she just replied, “I don’t know, what does that even mean to mourn a friend?” She was saying that Yom Hazikaron was always a meaningful day, with ceremony that meant something, and songs that were beautiful but sad- but it was always about people older that died by fighting. Anyone she knew who died in the army was because they were driving drunk, or found out they had cancer- their deaths had nothing to do with the army itself. But all of a sudden, she too has lost someone that she will be mourning on Yom Hazikaron, but the ceremony doesn’t feel so important, and the songs don’t seem as beautiful.

I don’t know how to talk to my friends in Israel that are in the army, or have their spouse, boyfriend, sibling, husband, etc. To be honest, I am not sure how to talk to anyone that is there. I keep on reading the news and my Facebook feed, and my heart is stopping and my jaw is clenching. What do I say to them? “I hope that you are ok”, it just seems so trivial. A friend of mine is pregnant, and her husband is in reserves. Another friend got married, and a week later her husband was sent to the reserves. A friend’s brother is in tanks. Friends of mine are in the army, although I am not sure where they are based, although I know they are in combat. And every morning I wake up to new names of people that are in the hospital or those who have been killed.

Someone asked me yesterday how I am doing. I said, I don’t know. That is the truth. I am scared and unsure. Part of me knows that we need to fight, because we shouldn’t have tunnels going into Israeli land that will allow those to kill people. We should not allow others to try and kill us. We have the right to defend ourselves. On the other hand, seeing the numbers of people dying (on both sides) keeps on getting higher and higher. But really is the answer to all of this the fighting and the dying? People are getting hurt. People are living in fear. The riots that are happening around Israel and the world are scary. I never thought I would be living in a world that I would be afraid to share who I am- for fear of being hurt, or not allowed in, or worse- killed. I am worried that I won’t be able to get back to Israel, or when I do it will be a new and scary place. It will be a place that I won’t be able to go to work or school as easily. That I will need to fear my life because a taxi cab driver might try and pull me into the car to kill me. Or that someone might through a Molotov cocktail at the building that I am sitting in. Or throw a rock at the bus I am riding. I worry that my friends are going to be hurt or killed. I am worried that my friends and brother are going to become hardened humans who stop being kind and sympathetic.

I have been praying and pleading with God for this to end. I will continue to do so. To pray for a time of peace and happiness for all. For a time that we are able to live and walk about without fear. To pray that people learn to love with as much intensity as they have to hate. To pray that the world learns that there is beauty in difference of the other, and for us to not only accept the other, but to learn from one another.

 “May He who answered Abraham on Mount Moriah answer you, and listen to your (prayer and) cry on this day. Blessed art thou, O Lord, Redeemer of Israel!” To the second he shall say: “May He who answered our ancestors on the Red Sea answer you, and listen favorably unto your cry this day. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who remembers all things forgotten (by man)!” To the third he shall say: “May He who answered Joshua in Gilgal answer you, and listen to your cry this day. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who deigned to listen to the sound of the cornet!” To the fourth he shall say: “May He who answered Samuel in Mizpah answer you, and listen this day to your cry. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who hearkens to (our) cry!” To the fifth he shall say: “May he who answered Elijah on Mount Carmel answer you, and listen favorably to your cry on this day. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who hearkens  to prayer!” To the sixth he shall say: “May He who answered Jonah in the bowels of the fish answer you, and listen unto your cry this day. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who answers in the time of distress!” To the seventh he says: “May he who answered David and his son Solomon in Jerusalem answer you, and listen unto your cry on this day. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who hast compassion on the earth!” (Mishna Ta’anit 2:4)

Posted in Israel, Life

I want…

I want to be able to breath again. I find myself holding my breath and not know what to do or how to act.

I want to not be numb or make myself numb. I read the news each day and I am not sure what to do with all of the information that I have taken in. I need to teach, I need to go on with my life- but at the same time there is that little reminding me that another horrible thing has taken place.

I want to be able to wake up with out wondering how many were killed last night. I want to not feel bad that I was able to have a deep sleep, without a worry that I might have to wake up in the middle of night and run to a shelter as quickly as I can.

I want to be to see people posting about the stupid things- buzzfeed quizzes, articles about nothing, baby pictures- all of that instead of seeing articles and pictures about death and destruction. About how we don’t remember how to act respectful to one another. That we have come to a point that all we know is how to kill and how to destroy.

I want to not feel like it is an ok thing to be killing. I want the fighting to stop, but I also understand why it needs to continue. It shouldn’t be that people are unable to live their lives because a rocket might fall at any minute. Or that there is a tunnel directly under their dining room where the enemy wants and will just enter to murder people, just because. People need to be able to protect themselves.

I want there to be a time when we are doing good things for each other, not because the world seems bad around us. I am reading about people and organizations donating food, clothing, and basic necessities to soldiers and those living in the South. It is great to read that stores are creating toiletry kits that people can purchase for cheap that are sent to soldiers. Why can’t we do this all year long- and send it to the needy in our communities. Why is it that we start doing good things and joining together only when the world seems like it is a mess?

I want everyone to be able to live happy, peaceful, and quiet lives. That people are able to go to work and then enjoy time with their families and friends. That their biggest worry is what do they want to make for dinner or even better yet, what TV show should they watch that night. We shouldn’t need the bad and the pain to bring us to a “meaningful” life. We should be able to see the greatness and the beauty of the world, and work to perfect that- so that everyone is able to enjoy.

May we all see more peaceful, calmer, and happier days in the not so distant future.

Posted in Israel, Life

How are you?

This is a question that we just ask people. I think that most of the time we don’t actually want to know the real answer, and so in many places, the answer is “ok” or “doing well” or “good”- regardless of if someone is actually doing well or not.

With everything happening in Israel right now, I feel like it is a loaded question. Asking the Israelis in camp or speaking to my friends in Israel- what am I expecting them to answer? “Oh- everything is great!” No, of course it is not. Rockets are falling, friends and families are in the front lines fighting, kids are learning songs that teach them what to do if they hear a siren, and people are doing things while in the back of their mind is “where is the closest shelter”.

But part of me actually wants to ask people, “How are you”. I want to hear what is going on. But I am not really sure how to actually ask that question. And with those who have shared how they are, I am not sure what to say. There aren’t really any words.

Posted in Israel

Air Raids

After hearing from my friends about all the air raid sirens, and running to shelter (sometimes are very inopportune times), I finally heard an air raid. Although I didn’t run anywhere, I just stayed in bed and went to sleep. It wasn’t because there was no where to run, nor was it because I wanted to catch a glimpse of a rocket or the iron dome, but rather because I didn’t need to run. This summer I am working at a camp in upstate New York, and the air raid siren is for the volunteer fire department, it is not a warning of incoming rockets.

Laying there in bed that night was strange and surreal. As it is, reading the news from here in camp is a very bizarre experience. In 2012 when rockets started flying to other places than the South, and they called up the reserves to go and fight, I was a big ball of nerves. It was really hard for me to concentrate, and I remember checking the news every chance I had, to see if something was happening. During that time I even experienced my first air raid, walking briskly down the stairs at school to the bomb shelter- both freaking out inside but bizarrely calm at the same time. But during this time I went to school and work as usual. I knew and saw that life was going on- things were a bit tense, but we were doing what we had to do.

But here I am, in the middle of the woods, with a gorgeous calming lake, and have found myself constantly reading about a siren going off every few hours or minutes. I’m seeing my friends post on Facebook about the sirens going off and where they were. I see my friends posting about being called up for miluim or friends who are currently in the army posting less than usual. I had to send an email to my subletters about finding the bomb shelter and where my roommate and myself keep our gas masks. I can feel my body and mind tense up knowing everything that is happening, but in someway it feels like that is all that is happening. It is so easy to forget that people are also going to work and to parties and being with friends.

When this all started my day basically looked like this: checking the news, going to davening, checking the news, learning, checking the news, teaching, checking the news, going to lunch, checking the news, teaching, checking the news, going to dinner, checking the news, learning, checking the news, going to bed. In between I might pray or talk to God to ask for a quieter more peaceful time, where the checking the news is not a constant thing. That I can actually enjoy the trees and the lake around me. That I don’t have to remind myself to calm down a bit because I need to now teach 9 year-olds, and I need to be present with them, not worried about the rockets flying at my friends and family.

I feel conflicted now- I am a bit calmer and not constantly checking the news, although I know that things are changing, not always for the better. I hear from people that they want to be in Israel now, and I kinda don’t. Why would I want to go when there are rockets flying. It is different if I am already there, but to go purposefully to be near the rockets, that just seems stupid. And then with all the killings- are the Gazans really putting their kids on the front lines and that is why they are dying- but still the kids are dying and that is a horrible thing. People shouldn’t be dying just because. The people living in the South shouldn’t be sitting in their shelters on a regular basis. Children should be allowed to play where they want, and shouldn’t need to know the cute song about what to do when a rocket falls (that a very brilliant teacher created- don’t get me wrong).

I hope and pray for a day that children and people on both sides are able to have everything that they need, and are able to walk around without thinking about where the closest shelter is, and children should never have to learn the rocket protection song.