Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Our Mother Rachel Weeps: Bring My Children Home

Yom chamishi, 21 Sivan 5774. The end of Day 6.

The mothers of Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali 
I'm listening to Ruchama Raz in the background. Her sweet voice connects me with something old in me, before my birth, that itself is connected to this Land. I'm listening to this because my husband has told me to stop listening to the news so much. (I joke with him that one of the signs of an Israeli is news addiction. So I'm a real Israeli now.)

Stunt Man comes in with a tub of kruv adom (red cabbage salad). Towering over me, he asks with absolute trust in my kitchen wisdom: "Ema, could you smell this or taste this, if you don't mind, and tell me if it seems okay to you? It smells okay to me; but I'm not sure." Dutifully I smell. Taste. "It's fine to me. I wouldn't have any problem eating it." Except for the calories I can't afford, I don't say. He takes his tall, handsome frame out the door, after giving me that gently grateful smile... full of trust.

And I get tears in my eyes, thinking of three mothers, wishing with all their hearts they could say "Yes, you can eat that." or "No, that's not good for you. Throw it out."...

אנגן שיריך... I will sing poems...

And then Sports Guy comes in. "Can you wake me up at eight tomorrow?" "You don't really need it anymore," I chide him, gently, gently, loving my "job" of being his back-up alarm. "It's okay. If you don't want to, I..." "No. It's okay. I don't mind. Just letting you know that I notice you've been getting yourself up lately." To lay tefillin and daven, sometimes in his room, before he goes back to sleep before work. Before he leaves in his olive drab uniform.

And I get tears in my eyes, thinking of young soldiers, searching for boys only slightly younger than themselves, and their mothers who send them out the door, with kisses and prayers...

 בארץ אהבתי... in the land I love...

Yeshiva Bochur drops by with laundry. "Do you mind if we come by for Shabbat dinner, Ema? It will be good to have all of the brothers home together..." All the brothers. And yes, I'll change the laundry, and hang the things that shouldn't be put in the dryer.

And I get tears in my eyes, hoping the boys -- all the brothers -- will be home for Shabbat dinner...

היו לילות, אני אותם זוכרת... There were nights, I remember them...

Soldier Boy calls me from the States, so very anxious to get back to this family, to his dear brothers, to this crazy land... He sings a song of love in his sweet, strong voice. He always makes me cry, even when there is nothing about which to cry. And I think of all the mothers who want to see their sons in the same room with them, to hear them laugh and sing, to hold them close...

And I get tears in my eyes, thinking of the prayers set to song, saying them fervently, for each and every boy and mother and every brother...

היה לי חבר היה לי אח... Be for me a friend, Be for me a brother...

Please God, bring them home. And don't let me take for granted a single day with these brothers.

I light a candle at precisely 20:30 with other mothers in Israel, praying that Hashem will rescue these boys in the merit of our Mama Rachel, and all her tears for her dear children... And then I tune back in, hoping for good news before another night of fitful sleep...

May we all share laughter and hugs and the wholeness of life and family, very, very soon.

איל בן איריס תשורה
גילעד מיכאל בן בת גלים
יעקב נפתלי בן רחל דבורה

Eyal, son of Iris Tasura
Gil-ad, son of Bat Galim
Yaacov Naftali, son of Rachel Devorah

Sunday, June 15, 2014

When Will We Have Made Enough Concessions to Appease Our Supporters?

Yom rishon, 17 Sivan 5774.

Last Thursday night, three yeshiva boys were kidnapped.
Without the swearing and vitriol that this topic usually seems to arouse, I would like to hear a reasoned discussion on the possible scenarios.

There are (at least) two different opinions among those who claim to support Israel.

On one side of the discussion are those who, for religious or nationalistic reasons, believe that Jews are entitled to land beyond the so-called Green Line, that we have a right to populate and rule over the region called variously the West Bank, Yehuda and Shomron, or Judea and Samaria. On the other side of the discussion are those who, for reasons of the pursuit of human rights or merely for peace and quiet, believe that Jews have no business occupying the land beyond the Green Line, that this land rightfully belongs to the Palestinians. For the sake of this discussion, I won't present all of the arguments of each side, about which much has been written extensively already.

In 2005, the Israeli government attempted the experiment of removing Jews from Gaza. For years, no Jews were there (except for Gilad Shalit). It is true that Gaza was not left unmolested -- but only as a response to attacks on Israel emanating from Gaza. This did not bring an increase in peace. Those on one side of the argument saw this as proof that moving Jews out of the area was a mistake, only allowing for another (and nearer) launching pad for terrorism. Those on the other side believe that it was not enough, and that the terrorism will stop when Israel withdraws from all of the land the Palestinians claim.

For the sake of this discussion, I won't deal with the chimera of settlement construction, as it is only a stepping stone. Why does settlement construction matter? As has been proved many times, it is not about building new settlements in areas currently occupied by Palestinians. In most if not all cases, the construction is happening in existing Israeli communities. Settlement construction is offensive to one side of the argument because it indicates that Israelis are planning to stay on land the other side covets. So let's cut to the chase.

If I and my neighbors in Judea and Samaria left our homes and moved into other parts of Israel, would the attacks stop? If they did, if there were peace, I guess we would have to concede that the other side of the argument was correct -- that at least for the purposes of peaceful coexistence, moving out of these areas and leaving them to the Palestinians was the necessary approach. But if peace didn't ensue -- if instead attacks now moved into Haifa and Tel Aviv and other areas that (so far) many of Israel's supporters (within Israel and without) believe Israelis are entitled to inhabit -- would the other side begin to believe that perhaps the Arabs do not want peace at all, but merely an absence of Israelis, and specifically Jews?

Or would that side merely suggest that it is fine and understandable for the Arabs to still be attacking, because Israel waited too long to pull out, or because Israel isn't doing enough to support the new Palestinian state surrounding her, or because the Arabs have a legitimate right to further chunks of Israel?

When will it finally be enough? Is there any way to prove to those on the other side of the argument, to our friends outside of Israel and inside her (accepted) borders, that Hamas and Fatah and Hizbollah and indeed the Palestinian and greater Arab world have no intention of making peace with even a sliver of Israel?

Please pray for the safe and speedy return to their families the following young men: Eyal ben Iris Teshura (age 19); Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim (age 16); Yaacov Naftali ben Rachel (age 16, and a US citizen).

איל בן איריס תשורה
גילעד מיכאל בן בת גלים
יעקב נפתלי בן רחל דבורה