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)