I’ve vacillated between needing to pay homage to the stories of survivors, the murdered and the kidnapped, and needing to preserve my own sanity and my own soul. There is so much to worry about and so much angst to be had in our little country that it’s literally hard to breath sometimes. Well, more than sometimes. I’ve tried…I’ve really tried to stay away from the stories, all the while feeling guilty because those people need to be heard. And listened to. But maybe they need those things from people around the world, and not from someone quite so close to the fire.
And yet. The other day I heard a baby crying and I felt a collective PTSD for all of our people. I thought about all of the babies in Kibbutz Beeri, in Kfar Aza, in so many other beautiful, peaceful, quiet neighborhoods in the South of Israel who went to sleep on Friday night, October 6th tucked in their cribs, in their homes, in their parents’ beds. And the cries that must have reverberated through the homes and the streets…and straight into Gaza as they were murdered, captured and pulled from their mothers’ breasts.
I force myself to pull away, to get out of the headspace that allows me to think such things. They don’t serve me, as the mother of soldiers and as the mother of children trying to make it day by day here in Israel.
My children have very little structure at the moment. The schools are trying, but it’s very complicated; many of their teachers have been called up; they go to school far from home, etc. Today, things felt like old times for a little while. My 18-year-old had a slew of friends over making pancakes and hanging out while my 12-year-old had friends over watching a movie and playing basketball. My 15-year-old arrived home with a few friends and went to hang out elsewhere and my 17-year-old took a nap (somehow with all that noise) and then went to find friends. And I sat back, relishing in the noise, the energy, the joy that these friends bring to each other’s lives.
But every moment of joy that I see is tinged with the reality of similar 18-year-olds, 17-year-olds, 15-year-olds and 12-year-olds who are just like my children, but happen to live in the South. And what they’ve now seen, been through, and experienced. How many of them have been butchered? How many kidnapped? How many watched their families murdered? How many hid under beds for two days? The questions continue, never-stopping…as well they should. These are our children. And the idea that anyone can justify what has happened for absolutely any reason – or can criticize us for anything that may be yet to come – is mind boggling.
This is my daily reality. I check in on other moms whose soldiers have now been away for more than three weeks, as have mine. I check in on moms whose husbands have now been in reserves and away from home for more than three weeks. I check in on our frontline doctors who are working around the clock to help those who have been displaced and are dealing with physical and emotional scars. And I try to check in on myself, and to remember to breath.
But the reality is that this has only just begun. And there is so much left to do. And so much healing that will have to happen after that. And I’m not even personally attached to the loss and terror, the death and grief experienced by so many in the South.
We are an incredibly strong people. But exactly how much strength must we be asked to show again and again and again? And how much must we endure on our backs for the history of the Jewish people and its future?
And on top of our intense anxiety and fear we have a world calling for our destruction. We see the insanity happening at universities in America, the vitriolic hatred seeping into European cities and language. It’s impossible to understand how people who have seen and heard about the recent massacres continue calling for our destruction. And how they are getting away with marching for the destruction of an entire people. Because make no mistake about it; that’s what they are saying and doing.
This is a bloodbath of hatred, deception and annihilation.
And it’s my life.
And my home.
And my children.
And my soldiers out there somewhere trying to conquer evil with every piece of their bodies.
And it’s barely even begun.
And we are living IN it. Swimming IN it every hour of every day.
This is 300,000 people displaced from their homes with no security, and no idea when they will return home.
This is our children with no educational framework; no regularity or schedule. Children who already went through the Covid years, as did children around the world, and who are now losing out on more education and more structure indefinitely.
This is mothers dealing with children on their own for weeks with no end in sight; children who are traumatized and mothers who are scared.
This is a situation where every single person living in this country wonders when teams of terrorists are going to burst through their doors. This is not abstract fear – it’s constant, real and impossible to ignore.
This is a situation where every single day for three weeks our social media was covered with announcements about bodies that were finally identified (and some that couldn’t be) and funerals conducted. Families who were in limbo all this time wondering if their loved one died or was kidnapped to Gaza.
This is my sons preparing to be warriors at the age when they could be traveling, loving, marrying, getting educated; putting their lives on the line knowing that they’ve just buried many of their friends.
We need the world to understand the depth of atrocities that have been committed against our people. Unprovoked. With no buts. None. And to be behind us and with us as we fight against pure evil to be able to actually live freely within our own borders for today, and tomorrow. And for our, and the world’s, future.