There is a ball of guilt sitting in my stomach day and night since leaving Israel. Our original plans were to leave Israel August 6th. However, July 15th, a little past midnight we were on a plane headed back to the States.
The week before we left, we were in Tel Aviv when the rockets started to rain down on Israel. (You can read more about that experience here CLICK ME.) I fell apart. Every time a siren went off my hands shook as I stood in the stairwell waiting to hear the booms that filled the air around us. I mentally could not handle the possibility that rockets could be overhead any time of the day or night. I didn't want to shower. I didn't want to go to sleep. When there were only seconds to get my family into the stairwell, I did not want to have shampoo in my eyes. Every night I would put my children to sleep and send a little prayer that their sleep would be uninterrupted. Thankfully the sirens did not go off between midnight and 7am. Two mornings my children were forced into the stairwell, naked and rubbing sleep from their eyes. For hours after I walked in a daze unable to shake the fear flooding my system. I looked around me in awe at the Israelis going about their lives unfazed.
Over breakfast either Wednesday or Thursday morning my husband asked me if I wanted to go home. The words bubbled out of my mouth and before I could stop myself I yelled, "yes" and he was on the phone with Delta in minutes. We booked our flight for three weeks earlier than our original plan. Friday we were back in Jerusalem hosting my family for Shabbat. Sunday and Monday we spent the time packing and saying goodbye to dear friends. Tuesday we were on a plane flying back to the States.
On our flight home I watched my children sleep, felt the rocking motion of the plane and calmed myself whenever we hit turbulence. I tried not to think about the nagging feeling we left Israel when she needed us most. In the past week as we have worked very hard to rebuild our lives in the States, I have been unable to focus. My heart is with Israel. Every life, every soldier, every son that dies in Gaza breaks my heart. I feel like a sell out. Israel is the Jewish land. It's the only land a Jew can live a Jewish life without fearing prosecution. Currently the French Jews are immigrating to Israel in the thousands to escape Muslim persecution and riots happening in their neighborhoods. When France became unsafe, Israel is all they had left. What happens if the whole world becomes unsafe to be a Jew? What happens if history repeats itself? All we have left is Israel. Israel is the Jewish homeland. All religions and races and cultures are welcome but it is the land that welcomes my people with open arms.
I have become obsessed with reading any news that pertains to Israel. In between appointments with schools and property managers I check my facebook to see how the war in Israel is progressing. I worry about our young soldiers who have to fight in Gaza, who are forced to kill children because they must protect themselves. I worry what that will do for their mental well being. I worry what will happen to Israel after this operation. I worry how they will find everlasting peace. I want peace for Israel.
I miss my friends. I made a few soul friends I will have in my heart forever. I will never forget the friends who helped me pack, who helped me keep it together emotionally as I said goodbye to Israel three weeks before I was ready to leave. The last few days walking in Jerusalem were bittersweet. The shuk, my constant friend, would be a distant dream living in my memory. The beautiful Jerusalem stone would have to wait until I flew back to Israel. I miss the smell of Jerusalem. I miss the magic, the energy that thickens Jerusalem's air. I miss the baked goods found at every corner. I miss the cats roaming the streets. I miss walking to the Kotel. I miss Mekimi clothing store. I miss living in a land where God is number one.
In exile finding God is a process of ripping the curtains. Every day I need to tear at the fog until I can touch God's hand again. God is here but the connection is softer, the wifi is weaker.
And so, I feel guilty. I feel weak. I feel like a coward. How could I leave Israel when she needed me most? When she is most in trouble?
Please, do not leave us. I beg you. We need you. The Jewish people, Israel, the world needs you. In three weeks you changed the world with your grace, your love and your faith.
Please, stay with us. Let your shining faces lead us to peace. Take on the mantle of leadership and change the world. Fix us, we are broken. We need the leadership of mothers, women who know the cost of bringing life into the world. Mothers who truly understand each life is a universe.
I looked to you for strength when your sons were abducted. I looked to you for faith as time went by without a word about them. I looked to you when I cried tears of grief as I mourned the loss of three beautiful souls from this world.
Please lead us. Be our voice. The world listened and will continue to listen to you.
You are our mothers.
You are the epitome of a Jewish woman's strength.
And if the mantle of leadership is too heavy a burden, never forget us. Pray for us.
Your voices will pierce through all the heavens.
Three Jewish boys were murdered by Hamas terrorists 18 days ago.
I tossed and turned in bed all night yesterday upon hearing the news the bodies were found, their souls gone to another place. Right before Shabbat 18 days ago we learned three Israeli children were kidnapped. I spent all of Shabbat worried but hopeful we would know more by Saturday night. Shabbat ended and little was known. Then a week went by, then two and then after almost three weeks we learned the bodies were found in a hole covered by rocks.
During this time their mothers were a symbol of hope and courage. These beautiful women with shining souls stood in front of tv cameras in their traditional Orthodox clothes and represented faith in God to the world. They never lost hope. It pains me to see their grief now. When I heard last night that the boys were dead my mind immediately mourned for their mothers. The women who carried them, brought them into this world and now would bury them. I was in the middle of dinner with my husband and our cousin. The food on my plate, my glass of wine - barely touched. I could not celebrate while knowing these mothers suffered such a horrific fate. I left in the middle of the meal and walked up Jaffa street.
This is what I saw at the corner of Ben Yehuda and Jaffa:
I saw religious Jews and secular Jews in unity. They lit candles and sang songs and cried together in memory of the three boys. A man in the crowd said Kaddish and we all said "amen" with our hearts crying out.
I stood there not knowing the words to the songs that filled my heart with comfort. I watched strangers cry in the street and flags wave in the wind as we stood together mourning children most of us never met. I pray we can finally find the motivation to unite as a people. May there deaths remind us to stay together, to love one another and to pray for peace for all people.
A long time ago I held a grieving parent in my arms. The experience has never left me. It is the greatest cruelty to have a parent bury a child. I was in awe of the three mothers during this experience, watching their hopeful faces believing that with prayer of all the Jewish people their children would return home to them, healthy and alive. Seeing their faces today as they mourned broke my heart. I came home from seminary and fell asleep on the couch, unable to process the pain etched on their faces.
My heart remains heavy. Although I do not know the mothers and I do not know their sons, I mourn with them. We mothers of the world must sometimes bear the greatest pain. I pray for them to heal and to find peace and to make peace with their sorrow so they may continue to live and perhaps one day know joy again.
Meet the Blogger!
I'm a mom. A writer. A lover of good fantasy. A proponent of nursing when possible. A birth advocate. I am absolutely horrible at keeping my house clean or the dishes washed or the laundry done. I strongly believe in women having a positive birth. When we start to respect women's rights to birth the way they want, we can start to treat women as equal people in this world.
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