On Tuesday, while Dahlia was being buried in Tekoa by hundreds of friends and family members (and complete strangers), my first grader was filling out a worksheet. He came home with the form to show me what they had done in school, and I simply wanted to put my head on the table and cry. There is always the debate here about how much to tell kids. Do you tell the littlest kids that a woman was murdered 150 meters from their school? Do you just tell them that something happened?
What we have found from years of living here is that they will ALWAYS hear about what happened – and they will often hear about it incorrectly from friends at school (although sometimes their accuracy is astounding). So, while there is no need to go into detail, there is a need to make sure our children are informed – whether we like it or not.
So Zeli went off to school Tuesday already knowing what had happened. And then, his teacher did this worksheet with the class. The form is beautiful, and elegant and perfect.
Perfect for the absolute insanity of our lives.
Perfect if you live in a world where your first grader gets to express his feelings about the latest murder.
Forget for a minute about the fact that my child has to fill out a worksheet like this, because that’s how we cope and get through our emotions, and simply focus on the fact that such an exercise exists.
In this country, we have “Where Were You When the Terrorist Attack Happened?” forms.
These are the worksheets that we have at the ready, mass produced and ready for distribution on any given day.
So I went over the worksheet with Zeli. For those of you who don’t know Hebrew, or who might not be able to read Zeli’s impeccable handwriting (hmmmm)..it says the following:
It asks the kids to draw a picture of where they were when they heard about the terror attack. Then, they circle from a collection of faces how they felt when they heard about it. Next, they draw a picture or write about what they did when they heard about it. Then they are asked how they feel now and what they can do for themselves to help themselves to have more strength.
The paper is beautiful. The process they worked through with the children is fantastic. The fact that we have such a paper, and such a need is disheartening, sickening and infuriating beyond words.
On Monday night, while we were staring at our computer screens all night, crying and processing, Yehuda and Josh had an appointment. They went to the home of the man who is writing the parchment inserts for Yehuda’s tefillin and Yehuda got to watch the process a bit and learn with this Rav. He even learned to write a few words himself in the style used for the tefillin and to bring this parchment paper home to show me.
And when they returned home, we all wanted to act excited – we all wanted to share in this moment, post pictures to Facebook and talk about it….but the air in the house was filled with sorrow, anger and fear. There was little room for much else. And so we passed on celebrating the moment. Yehuda showed me what he had written and I told him how wonderful it was.
And then we all returned to checking the news, thinking about Dahlia's family and wondering what terror attack would strike next.
The terror of the evening had robbed us of a beautiful moment. And while we certainly try to continue living our lives, it was impossible to do so that evening.
We look forward to a wonderful bar mitzvah and to many special moments. But that one? That one was completely ruined from the terror and reality around us.