The war continues – Reflections from Jerusalem/Tzur Hadassah

As the emails start rolling in again – “Are you OK?” from friends in the US following the latest news in Israel, I think it’s time for another report from the Jerusalem-Tzur Hadassah line.
The answer is generally – Yes, I am OK. I am not a Palestinian living in Gaza. I am not a soldier sent to Gaza. I don’t have a close relative or friend who is there. I don’t live in the south of Israel which has daily bombardments of rockets. We “only” got three sirens in Jerusalem.
But I am not as OK as someone living in Cleveland, that’s for sure. As my mom said after she asked about what’s going on here, “Well, everything’s good here. My problems seem silly now.”
Two images, both from last weekend:
We spent a family weekend with my husband’s extended family taking over a friend’s house in a little village halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. From their porch, you have a clear view to Ramla, Modi’in, and Tel Aviv about 25 km away. We are sitting down to dinner when someone shouts, “Interception!” I turn around to look out the window to see a flash of light in the sky like a small firework. It was a second Hamas missile intercepted by Iron Dome. Seen right out of the window. And, of course, followed by the boom. We took a hike the next day in the neighboring Eshta’ol Forest – we heard no warning siren, but we heard booms all day long.
That Saturday evening, I was in Tzur Hadassah for a lovely evening in which we hosted Cantor Debby Martin of Temple Beth El in Madison, WI. She sang and taught a beautiful program. The entire time we could hear boom, boom, boom, boom. People checked their phones – we were hearing the first night of the Israeli attack on Gaza. Most days this week that I was in Tzur Hadassah – there are booms. Hamas rockets, Israeli artillary?
My husband was supposed to have reserve duty recently. He is in the well-known 8200 Intelligence unit (re: Start-Up Nation). This was not convenient as we are planning to move apartments at the end of the month. They cancelled his reserved duty the minute the war started. (By the way, in case you have any doubt in your mind – this is a war) I would rather have had the inconvenience of routine reserve duty than this war. The ground war started on Saturday night. Tuesday he got a call – we’re calling you in tomorrow. Then they cancelled it. Then they called him Wednesday – we’re calling you in tomorrow. This time he really went. This is called Tzav 8 — the call to reservists in time of war. He was also called for the Second Lebanon War, one week after our marriage. I can’t really comment on this, since he is in intelligence and he can’t tell us anything anyway. He’s close to home, don’t worry 🙂 We’re still supposed to move on Tuesday. Celebrate our son’s birthday party with friends from his class on Monday. We looked at each other and said, “We’ll take it one day at a time.”
In Jerusalem and in Tzur Hadassah, everyone knows someone who is in Gaza, and a few even have an association with a soldier who was killed (One of the fallen soldiers was the son of a good friend and co-worker of my mother-in-law. I did not know her son, but I know his mother who is a wonderful person. Heartbreaking.) It is part of every conversation we have — at the Mother-Baby group, at the Torah study class, at the bar mitzvah lesson, and certainly this past Friday evening – we said a special prayer for the soldiers and we remembered the name of every soldier that was killed this week.
Of four bar/bat mitzvah ceremonies of families from North America that I was supposed to officiate at these past two weeks, three cancelled. I stood with the family that decided to come despite the conflict at the egalitarian section of the Western Wall (Ezrat Yisrael) and it felt even more poignant — these soldiers died for us. So that we can have Israel as a place of refuge for Jews who have been persecuted in many lands for many generations. So that we can have Israel as a place of celebration to connect with our ancient past and with our sacred places. So that we can continue to build a vibrant society and continue to aspire to be a “light unto the nations.” We are in their debt.
I am particularly troubled by the reports of racism and violence this week against Arabs and against people and demonstrations which identify as “left wing.” I believe, as ever, that the State of Israel needs liberal Judaism. Our Movement in Israel is doing so much to help those in the line of fire and providing us with the tools to support our communities spiritually in this difficult time. The Reformers of the 19th Century were trying to stop assimilation. We in the 21th Century need to stand fast by the Jewish values of caring for the other – ger v’toshav v’chai imach- “the stranger and resident among you”, ukaratem dror ba’aretz — proclaiming liberty throughout the land, ve’ahavta l’re’acha kamocha – to love your fellow as yourself, and, of course, that every person is created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of G-d. Among a long list of important Jewish values.
I hope and pray that we will build this Israeli society in the memory and honor of those brave soldiers who died for us. Thank you to everyone from near and far for your support.

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One Response to “The war continues – Reflections from Jerusalem/Tzur Hadassah”

  1. Sharon George Says:

    Praying for Israel and for peace, remembering the fallen soldiers, and of glad you and your family are safe

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