You Inspire Us
And a Note to Parents
By: Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
To My Dear Israeli Brothers and Sisters:
I honestly don’t know how you do it. How you survive the waves of terror attacks (see searing reports below from Mrs. Romi Sussman and an anonymous mother in Yerushalayim), knifings, car rammings, rock throwing, missiles and even wars. How you deeply mourn the dead, then stoically stiffen your backs and proceed as if nothing had happened. How your island of democracy and freedom thrives in a sea of despotism and chaos.
What I do know is how you all inspire your brothers and sisters worldwide whose “hearts are in the East,” beating along with yours; who worry, pray and grieve in solidarity with you from thousands of miles away. We are in awe of your inner strength and, religiously observant or otherwise, in your faith in Hashem and your faith in our destiny as a nation.
(NOTE: I strongly encourage fellow Jews living in the Diaspora to post notes of support and solidarity to our brothers and sisters in the thread below this column. Please include your name and city where you live to personalize your message.)
We at Project YES got several calls/emails from Israeli parents requesting advice on how to calm their children’s fears in these terribly challenging days and nights. I hope you find these lines helpful:
• Permit me to begin by sharing with you an excellent resource provided by my dear chaver Dr. Ronald Wachtel, founding director of Kav L’Noar, Parenting in Times of Terror. Kav L’Noar emailed this to their list earlier this week.
• Be there for your children and remember that very often listening to them carefully is more important than speaking. Allow them to share their fears and concerns – and even their questions of faith (Why is Hashem letting this happen to us?). Always keep in mind that an unasked question is an unanswered one.
• For the faith-based questions, I hope you find Teiku -- Explaining the Inexplicable helpful. We posted it after the horrific death of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali HY"D last summer.
• Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Tell the children that they are safe in your home, and that you as parents will do everything possible to keep them safe, but don’t say things like, “Nothing will ever happen to you.”
• Keep in mind that your children are watching you very carefully and that you will be modeling lessons of resiliency that your kids will draw on all their lives. Please see Tough Times Don't Last; Tough People Do, an essay we ran in Mishpacha Magazine during the most difficult days of “The Great Recession,” a few years back.
• Finally, don’t be terribly concerned with the fact that you won’t or may not have all the “right” answers. Just being there and doing your best is usually more than sufficient.
Fourteen years ago, on the day following 9-11, I conducted several assemblies with the students in our yeshiva to calm their understandable fears. To prepare myself for that difficult task, I read all the right material and spoke to all the right people. But things don’t always turn out the way we hope they do. One of the important pointers I read and heard about was telling the children (as noted above) that we will do everything possible to keep them safe.
Well, shortly after our students arrived home that night, a father of a middle-school student called me to share the humorous thing his son told him when they were reviewing the day’s events. When his father asked him what I shared with them during the assembly and how it made him feel, his son replied, “I felt much more comfortable when Rabbi Horowitz started speaking, but I started getting really worried when he said how safe we were five or six times.”
Shabbat Shalom to you, my dear brothers and sisters. May Hashem grant you tranquility and shalom, and may He guard the brave soldiers and security forces who are protecting His people.
With admiration, love and respect.
The letter below is from Mrs. Romi Sussman, a wife and mother living in Neve Doniel in Israel, experiencing the horrific situation that is now going on.
This letter is real and true.
We aren’t in the midst of a conflict here in Israel.
You read that right. There’s no conflict.
A conflict is inherently an event where two parties are engaged in a fight, a battle, a struggle.
There’s no conflict in Israel right now.
There is terror. Period.
Out and out one-sided terror.
When I see the coverage that the international media offers to what’s happening here, I feel like I’m living inside The Onion, an American digital media company and news satire organization. The coverage is simply too far-fetched to be believed – and yet it’s being believed around the world.
Last week, a well-educated Arab woman walked into a bus station in Afula with a knife and tried to stab a soldier. The soldier got away but she refused to put the knife down, and eventually had to be shot in the legs. The Arab world, showing a picture of her and then a picture of her on the ground, reported that she was killed in cold blood with no justification.
Another day, two brothers aged 13 and 15 set out to stab Jews. After stabbing and critically injuring two people, they were stopped by our forces. The 15 year old was killed. Abbas himself has reported that we killed the 13 year old in cold blood with no justification. Not only did we not kill him, but he’s getting medical attention at this time in our hospital at Hadassah after ripping a 13 year old boy off of his bike and trying to kill him. In the Arab social media world, they have shown a picture of the Arab 13 year old boy who was “just on his way to the mall” and declared that we killed him in cold blood. And yet, this video (which I'll warn you is very disturbing) shows exactly what those boys were doing that day and why they were out on the street.
There is no conflict here.
There is terror.
In another recent incident, an Arab Israeli, with the same rights and privileges that I experience in Israel (and probably a much higher salary), used his Bezeq company car to crash into a bus stop and savagely kill a 60 year old Rabbi standing there waiting for a bus.
The most stunning piece occurred when a Mounir Kleibo, who heads the UN bureau of the International Labor Organization in the Palestinian Territories, was hurt Friday by rock throwing in East Jerusalem. While recovering in an Israeli hospital, he wrote that “Allah will forgive the rock throwers.”
Furthermore, a UN coordinator, Robert Piper, condemned the attack “on a clearly marked United Nations (UN) vehicle traveling on Route 50 in East Jerusalem, which seriously injured a senior UN official.” Meaning that if it hadn’t been a UN car it would have been alright, and justified, but that they shouldn’t have thrown rocks at a clearly marked UN car.
And then, of course, there is this video going around the world that shows Arabs exactly how to stab Jews.
The world has gone made. And we feel it.
And as we feel it, this is what I know.
I know that I’m putting my purse high up so that my four year old doesn’t find the pepper spray that I’m now carrying around 24/7.
I know that my son is carrying pepper spray as well that I hope he never uses, and that they are giving them self-defense courses at his school.
I know that I’m spending two hours tomorrow in a self-defense course and many hours in the next few weeks becoming more comfortable with the gun that I absolutely do not want to carry.
I know that we are paying thousands of shekels next week to get one of our cars rock proofed (the other one already is) so that we can drive the roads that we live on; the roads that our ancestors have walked on for thousands of years.
I know that I check the news obsessively and check in with my family members even more.
I know that I have to tell my 13 year old that he’s only allowed to look at the news for a few minutes each afternoon and that he’s not allowed to look at videos. Gd only knows how he’s processing all of this.
And I know that my 7 and 9 year olds have been talking about how they would get away from a knife-yielding terrorist.
And I know that amazingly resourceful Israelis have been using everything at their disposal to stop terrorists from selfie sticks and umbrellas to nunchucks. Really. Read it.
I know that all of this – all of this – would go away if they would just stop. The violence in this entire country would be over if the Arabs would stop being violent. Period.
We would still have a long way to go at that point, and many questions to answer. Again and again, Israel has asked the Arab population to come to the table. We have offered land; we have withdrawn from Gaza; we are willing to try. But the PA has created a situation by using Har Habayit/Al-Aksa as a spark to start the fire of their own making, while lying to their people the entire time. And while keeping their own people from building, creating and dreaming of a better future.
Because violence is so much easier.
This is not a conflict. We aren’t in conflict when I drive down the road praying not to get hit by a rock or a bullet aimed at me.
We aren’t in conflict when I walk the streets, looking behind me at every turn. And we aren’t in conflict when I go to the grocery store and manage to take products off the shelves behind my back so that I have a view of the aisle behind me. We aren’t in conflict when I have to think to myself “Never turn your back, even when you’re picking out tomatoes.”
We aren’t in conflict.
We are being murdered. Period.
And we are alone with this terror as the world evaluates if we are using “excessive force” and if we are “brutalizing” the Arabs murdering us.
And, unless you live here and walk the streets with me each day, you can’t imagine how that feels.
Our special thanks to Mr. Larry Levine firstname.lastname@example.org for sending us Mrs. Sussman's letter and obtaining permission for us to publish it and forward it to you.
Hashem is in Control
By: An Anonymous Writer in Yerushalayim
It's Thursday afternoon, and I'm preparing for Shabbos like every other week. But... this Thursday is different.
I usually have my Erev-Shabbos schedule down pat. I'm a very structured person and I like things to be just so.
This Thursday, though, my husband did the Shabbos shopping bein hasedarim because I am afraid of the Arab workers in Hachi Kedai.
This Thursday, my Chessed girl called to cancel because her seminary is in lockdown.
This Thursday, I am cooking for just us because my brother-in-law's Yeshiva is having a mandatory in-Shabbos as a result of the current situation.
This Thursday, I am not concerned about scheduling my baby's nap early enough so we can get to the park before bedtime, because all we mothers feel that the park is too exposed for our comfort.
I haven't gone out in a few days- I have been postponing all my errands.
I feel trapped; cooped up. And scared.
Everything is different.
Or is it?
I am reminded of another Thursday afternoon, two years ago. That Thursday, we were snowed in.
My husband did the shopping because I was afraid of the unsalted streets.
My Chessed girl cancelled because she could not get from her neighborhood to mine.
I cooked for just us because no guests were willing to brave the treacherous roads.
I made no plans to go to the park because the park was lost beneath a sea of white.
And I did not even attempt to run errands.
I felt cooped up just the same. But not scared.
And all those similarities got me thinking.
Weather is beyond my control, as are terrorists. And just like Hashem will decide without my help when there will be storm and when will be sun, so too He decides when and where the knife will pierce. Which plans will be thwarted and which evil intentions averted.
If He is not stopping those knives, there is a reason.
And if that knife is meant to pierce, the safety of my walls is no safety at all.
So the only thing we CAN control is how we respond to the message Hashem is sending us with such force. Paralyzing fear (my reaction till now) is understandable, but doesn't accomplish much. Instead, I am using this extended time indoors with my children to get to know them better, to play with them more. I am learning to feel proud of living here in fear- of staying in Eretz Yisrael when it's not comfortable. I am learning to value our emunas chachamim when I send my husband to kollel without too much fear because R' Chaim shlit"a said talmidei chachamim will be protected. And I am learning to surrender control to Hashem.
It's a pretty important lesson. From the storms of anger, terrorism and snow, I learned my place.
Let us pray that Hashem now begins to show His ultimate control by bringing absolute Shalom and eternal peace to Klal Yisrael!
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