Monday, April 24, 2017

Carrying the Torch of our Futures

I created a new file today for the file cabinet. It says “Army Stuff” on it. And as I filed it away, with the first of my first son’s army papers in it, I just couldn’t believe that we had come to this stage.

Tonight, I stood in the Neve Daniel hall with hundreds of my community members and watched the Yom HaShoa (Holocaust Memorial Day) ceremony.

I couldn’t help but marvel, with the typical tears meeting beneath my chin to drop and pool on my sweater, at the juxtaposition.

Today, this son who will be the first of my many to enter the army, stood in as a substitute basketball coach for his younger brothers. They played and laughed on the court in Neve Daniel, in the mountains of Judea, here in Israel.

Tonight, I watched as the kids putting on the event came on stage dressed in clothes from the 1940s, with stars ablaze on their garments. They posed, as if they were part of a picture from long ago; and it hit me that the six million people that we think about in a massive, unimaginable number, were each someone’s friends. They were Arbel and Stav, Yehuda and Amichai. The faces of the faceless, nameless 6 million became real to me as I saw them on stage. And of course we all know that they were real people, but they are so hard to conceptualize and to fathom. Here, standing in front of me, were 8 teenagers who I know and love – and I could suddenly visualize the horror, the terror and the reality.

Today, my children burst in the door, making arrangements to gather wood to get ready for Lag B’Omer.

Tonight, I listened as one of our yishuv members recreated the last Seder in the Warsaw Ghetto. He sang a piercing melody of longing, of fear and of hope at their dining room table, sitting across from his eight year old who wondered who would sing “Ma Nishtana” next year, and who would remember.

Today, my children sat at the dining room table doing their math homework and their science homework in Hebrew; in the language in which they are most comfortable; the language of their people, their nation and their country. They sat at the dining room table where just last week my six year old belted out “Ma Nishtana” and my eight year old shared a Dvar Torah about our escape from Egypt.

We remembered.

Tonight, we stood for Kaddish, and then we sang Hatikva as the same teenagers who had been dressed as Holocaust victims changed into blue and white and waved the Israeli flag.

And I thought about that new file sitting in my file cabinet. I can’t bring back the six million who died; I can’t make up for the pain of those who lived and remembered and carried on.

But I can create this file.

And I can sign the papers that allow my son to try out for the units of his dreams, and to envision himself as part of the future.

Our Future.

That file is our future.

It’s a future where a Jewish child, wearing a green uniform and not a yellow star, will strap a gun over his shoulder and not a sack with his worldly belongings, and defend his people. In his Homeland.

We can’t bring them back. But we can use our minds to remember, and we can use our bodies firmly planted here in Israel, or supporting the country from wherever we may be, to declare Never Again.

We can watch our children, our confident, bold, Zionistic children take up the torch of our future with their files.

This post first appeared last night on the Times of Israel blog.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Pausing to Remember Elhai Teharlev

It’s four days before Passover and I’ve been busy juggling work, housework, watching the kids…all the things we are all doing this week. So when I heard this morning that there was yet another car ramming — a ramming outside of Ofra — and that someone was killed, my heart sank. Because my heart always sinks when I hear this. 

And I thought, Oh dear Gd, not again.

But there isn’t much information for hours as they process and tell loved ones and arrange and deal and…I don’t really know what else they do (thank Gd).

So I went back to my work and my cleaning and my watching my kids destroy the house while I work and clean.

Then around lunchtime, I glanced at Facebook. I saw a picture of a beautiful, strong young man rappelling. My oldest son is out rappelling today. So I thought — hey, I don’t know that kid, but I guess Matan sent me a picture of the fun they are having today. 
What a gorgeous kid. They look happy.

And then I realized that the picture was from Moshe Saville, the head of the community council of Gush Etzion. It took me a minute to jump from my son, who is currently rappelling down a mountain, to this son.

This son, who is rappelling in the picture.

But isn’t rappelling right now in real life.

Because he was murdered today.

And then my day fell apart, as well it should. Because while Matan is rappelling and enjoying his life with his gorgeous friends on a beautiful day, Elhai Teharlev isn’t.

They both set out this morning. One is gone for no reason other than a terrorist woke up this morning and decided to target that bus stop, at that moment. He decided to kill that Jew, that soldier, that son.

Now I can’t get Elhai’s parents, Rav Ohad and Avital, out of my mind. What was Avital doing this morning when she heard about the car ramming? How many lists did she have in her head of things she had to do to get ready for Passover? How many chores had she sent her other six children to do? Who was coming over for seder? How close were they to turning over the kitchen? Did they plan to take a trip during Chol Hamoed?

These tapes run and run and run in my mind. And as I try to get back to my cleaning, I think about them dressing for their son’s funeral.

The only reason that they are dressing for a funeral for their gorgeous, strapping young son who was rappelling not long ago, and I am not doing so for my gorgeous, strapping young son who is currently rappelling is because…of nothing.


And I have to get back to my cleaning; I don’t have the time to write this, just as you probably don’t have the time to be reading it.

But I don’t have the ability not to write it.

Elhai must be remembered; we must pause from what we are doing to scream and write and question and cry. We must pause to help his family in any way that we may be able to do so. And to think about the never-ending question about how the hell to move forward. Again.

May Elhai’s memory be a blessing, always. May his family find comfort among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. The seemingly never-ending list of mourners.

This piece was first published at Times of Israel.