I am sitting in one of the boats at Disneyland, going through the “It’s a Small World” ride. And it’s not the enjoyable experience that it was when I was a kid.
Let me explain.
I grew up right near Disneyland and I used to love going there. My favorite ride was “It’s a Small World After All” and my dad and I could ride it 10 times on one trip to Disney. If you haven’t been on the ride, I’ll explain a bit. It’s a boat ride that takes you through a canal. Along the way, you go through various rooms where there are oodles and oodles of dolls in costume from every nation.
And my dad always used to laugh as I spun and spun my head, trying to figure out where to look first and what to absorb. It was sensory overload – there was no way to take everything in and there wasn’t enough time to do so before the boat moved on.
And that is exactly how I feel today.
Except today it isn’t an amusement park.
It’s my life.
Today is my precious two year old’s birthday. And I want to be celebrating and dancing with him; writing in his baby book and making him giggle.
But I don’t feel like giggling while rockets rain down on Beer Sheva and as people crouch beside their cars in Tel Aviv, waiting for the air raid siren to stop.
Today, Yarden has set out on an amazing ride, covering hundreds of kilometers from the very top of Israel to the mountains of Gush Etzion, all for the love of his wife and for the benefit of Shaare Zedek Hospital.
And I’m so overwhelmingly proud of him. And of the men who are riding alongside him and making sure that he fulfills his goal.
But I don’t feel elated, and I’m not even sure that this amazing task can distract me from the murder of a Chabad emissary who was pregnant, and visiting Israel to give birth and attend a memorial ceremony for other Chabad emissaries killed by terrorists.
And I’m pissed.
Because Yakir’s birthday deserves center stage in my life.
And Yarden’s ride deserves it as well.
I’m in the boat, heading from room to room of “It’s a Small World” and I simply don’t know which way to turn my head first, and I don’t know how to absorb what is in front of me, to the side of me, behind.
I’m grateful, of course, that I don’t happen to be in range of the missiles. But 1 million Israelis are sleeping in bomb shelters tonight and being fired upon over and over and over again for being Jewish and for living their lives in their Homeland.
As Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the US recently explained, having 1 million Israel citizens being forced into bomb shelters “would be the equivalent of 40 million Americans in bomb shelters.”
And I’m pissed that my newly married co-worker came to work this morning worrying about her husband who’s in the army. And that many of my dear friends have that far away look in their eyes, as they try to get through every minute while wondering where their soldier sons are right now.
How do Israelis handle this barrage of information? This anger, frustration and grief?
What I’m going to do is the following.
I’m going to put blinders up to some of those sections of the boat ride. If I don’t ignore some of the dancing dolls, I won’t get through the day.
And I’m going to open my home to those from the South, inviting them to come and get away from the bombs and the devastation.
And I’m going to wake up throughout the night to check on Yarden’s progress, and then dance and sing when he arrives back in the yishuv tomorrow. And I’ll probably cry too.
And I’m going to kiss that beautiful baby in the morning, and wish him a gorgeous, glorious birthday. And place that crown that his brothers made upon his head, and celebrate with friends on Shabbat.
Because he deserves it.
And so do I.
And then I’m going to pray for all of our soldiers, and all of our citizens who are in need at this time. And I’m going to thank Hashem that I’ve been given the opportunity to live amongst these people, and to be part of history in the making as we defend our country, yet again.
Even if it brings me to fresh tears each day right now.