This small country of ours truly never stops amazing me. I knew that it was Yom HaShoah today – I sent one of my kids to school in blue and white with a yellow Jewish star that he’s going to put on later for a performance they are doing. And obviously it’s all over the news, the internet, etc.
And yet….and yet…at 10:00 I was standing in my kitchen about to make a snack when the siren rang. That siren. It’s got to be the most piercing thing that I’ve ever heard in my life. I hung up the phone, stopped preparing my food and just stood there. I was thinking about the fact that here I am – in 2008 in my kitchen in ISRAEL. How unreal would that have seemed in the barracks at Auschwitz that I could be in my kitchen 65 years later in Israel? I’m free. I live in a Jewish country – a Jewish country – with a beautiful house, children who are learning about their heritage in school, a job, and a tree in the front yard that is large enough that it’s had almost 10 uninterrupted years to grow and flourish. It’s truly a modern miracle – this state that we are living in.
Josh and I went to Auschwitz years ago. It was, obviously, a very difficult experience. I was able to hold it together in general – except for one thing. When we entered the area, we saw a large group of kids who had come from Israel. They were covered in Israeli flags and were carrying huge flags with them. I was completely and totally overcome and almost had to leave. What a strange reaction, you might think. We didn’t live in Israel yet, but that moment – that image of the kids – screamed out to the Nazis and to the area “Screw You! You didn’t kill us all. We are here and we’re building a country and we are connected to our heritage and you didn’t win.” It was completely overpowering for me – it was like the siren. Perhaps it was one of the many signs that led us, eventually, to move here. So that our children will carry that flag one day and will continue to show the Nazis – the Arabs – anyone who wants to kill us all – that they won’t win and that we will remember the past and fight for the future.
That siren travels right through your body. It’s even more amazing if you are out in a busy area and suddenly everything – everything – comes to a standstill. But, even in my kitchen, all by myself, I feel it move right through me. I feel the entire country – from babies to the elderly – standing still and thinking about their ancestors who suffered so much and fought so bravely so that I could stand in my kitchen in Israel on this day. And I felt the baby moving inside of me – the life that is kicking and growing and getting ready to shine – the Israeli life that is going to continue in spite of what was done to us – and what some people in the world are continuing to try to do to us. It’s amazing. It’s Israel.