Hello there. I am so sorry it has taken me some time to write. I took the summer off while we were in the US, and when I came back the writing just didn’t come back with me.
Sunday morning I woke up and a little writing finally came. I wrote a message to the parents of my kids classes that I will share with you. In my posts to you, I generally seek conclusions. I only arrive at questions here. Perhaps you can help me write the ending.
“Hello, it’s Sara, Eitan and Jonah’s mom. You may have heard that there was a shooting in America at a synagogue on Shabbat. There are many reasons why we came to Israel. You welcomed Eitan and Jonah last year and made them feel at home. We are joyful to be here, and I also wanted to express my gratitude to be here. We are grateful for you and your kids and this country.”
Growing up in America as a Jew, I felt special. I felt loved by my family and my community. We belonged to a conservative Jewish synagogue up the street that my friends and I went to at least four days a week for Hebrew School and Sabbath services.
I felt special because my grandparents and my parents were active in society, as Jewish leaders and as civic leaders. I felt special because Jews have been important contributors to world history and it’s a pretty cool crew to be associated with.
I also felt special because no matter how much I felt like everyone else, I knew there was a dark side to being Jewish. The history of our people is a joyful and productive one, but it is also filled with horror. You are part of this people, congratulations on being a Bat Mitzvah! And, by the way, there will always be people who want to hunt you and eradicate you from existence. It won't be all bad, but be on the look out. Mazel tov!
I don’t have writer’s block at the moment, but I am speechless. I am horrified but not surprised by the Sabbath massacre. Jews have lived with hatred all along, and the numbers of documented anti-semitic incidents are ticking upward. We have been bracing ourselves. And while Jews are special, we are special like all people and peoples are special. We are merely one marker of humanity.
I have been thinking a lot about how unusual it is to live in another country from the one I was born. It isn’t so easy to cross borders. There are so many people desperately moving around the globe right now seeking safety or just a better life. I came to Israel as a Jew, because it is the Jewish State. I came here by choice. We hopped in a plane, filled out some paperwork and all of a sudden we are immigrants in a homeland that is ours. Is there any other country that welcomes people because of their religion? Their tribe? Please tell me! I need to know. Is there another 'take refuge' state?
Is it possible that Israel exists in part because we need one place on earth where being Jewish in every day life is safe? In these 70 short years of nationhood, it is still a living miracle that Israel is here for the Jews. I don't know what it means.
May the memories of those who were murdered be a blessing. And may the good in our hearts and actions prevail, whatever is coming. I love you and miss you.