Our days are completely and totally unpredictable at the moment. Other than the fact that we are both trying to work, and trying to remember to eat once in awhile, there is no other consistency. Each day brings new challenges, new ways to try to help others, new tears and much more. We are all walking around in a bit of a fog. I have heard many adults around me ask others to remind them which day it is; I’ve seen people in the middle of a sentence stop, look around and say they have no idea what they were saying. This is our life at the moment.
This morning started when my 15 year old asked if I could drive him to his Hebrew teacher’s house close by where she is sitting shiva. Shiva is the 7 day Jewish mourning period that starts after burial. The Hebrew teacher and her family buried their 20 year old daughter on Friday (and my 17 year old attended the funeral) and now my 15 year old wanted to pay a shiva visit. I explained to him how shiva works and what it looks like. When he and his friends finished, he relayed to me that the family described a sense of relief after the burial. Their daughter was at the music festival in the South on Saturday, 10 days ago, and for four days they didn’t know whether she had been murdered or kidnapped. These are the stories my children are hearing and the words they are hearing from mourners that they personally know.
After working for awhile, Josh and I then set out to help a young mom to find a small trampoline. She is staying nearby (but isn’t from here) and has a bored 2 year old, no car and a husband fighting. We don’t know this woman, but the ability to help others is the driving force keeping most of us sane at the moment. So we were thrilled to try to help (we haven’t found a trampoline or slide for her yet…but are still trying).
We got home to find a massive amount of kugels on our counter. It’s a long story, but someone had these massive kugels and wanted to get them to soldiers. Most of the soldiers around the country have so much food that it’s actually become hard to place food donations. I managed to get in touch with a few people and to find an avenue for delivering them to soldiers who would actually eat them.
My youngest has been participating in Zoom sessions, but has not gone back to school yet. My favorite line yesterday was when he asked, “Can I bring the computer into the bathroom with me for my zoom class? I forgot to go before class started.” Kudos to his diligence. Less kudos to his tact.
My other kids have been running around finding a million little ways to help. They are feeding families who have escaped from the South and are staying in our area; going to funerals of people they don’t know; working with little kids to give their moms a break while their dads are in reserves; driving people around without cars and more. They are all teenagers who experienced an intense break in regular life during COVID 19, and who are experiencing another, albeit very different, break from routine again now.
And one of my closest friends has now gone to the center of the country twice to be part of the tahara (the Jewish ritual process of getting a body ready for burial). This is one of the most holy and difficult ways to volunteer that I know of during regular times; now, they are helping to prepare the 1300 bodies for burial. I have so much awe for what she has been doing.
We also participated last night in a wedding that was arranged in less than 48 hours. The bride and groom were supposed to get married in a few weeks. The groom got released from the army on Sunday for a few days, turned to his future bride and his family and said “Why are we waiting? Let’s do this now.” And within two days, they had a small wedding hall with food that was all cooked by their friends, a chuppah, a band and a gorgeous night that we will all remember.
We’ve also been checking in on another friend who has a son in the same unit one of ours is in. Yesterday she wrote that she had a few minutes, and we ran to give her a hug, share a coffee and cry a bit together.
This is just a tiny window into our lives today. We are trying to keep the four boys under our roof emotionally, spiritually and physically safe as they try to navigate these incredibly difficult days, while striving to do the same for ourselves. We think all the time about our two sons who are not home with us, celebrate when we hear from them and pray that they should return home victorious and whole.
For those of you asking how you can help, here are a few ideas. I can certainly supply others as requested. One of the most important ways that you can help is by standing up for Israel in any and all ways that you can do so in your own lives. And by checking in on those who need it here.
Ideas for donating:
Meshek 48 (These are our friends who have been opening their coffee shop to soldiers in the area completely free of charge. Should you want to sponsor a day of coffees, I would love to put you in touch with them.)
May we know better days soon.