Dear Israel,

Yesterday, my sister asked me if I was running a fever? The reason; I told her I went to a Yankees game and didn’t enjoy it all that much. That had her worried and wondering if I was sick.

I’ve been a Yankees fan since I was 10. I’m now 47. It’s been a long, satisfying relationship. And it’s a love that I’ve passed down to my son. The Yankees, much to my delight, are now his favorite team and Jeter is his favorite player. Hence, we went to see Jeter one last time.

I admit I wanted the game to be a diversion. I was in Israel when Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali were kidnapped. I’ve had a dull ache in my heart and sometimes in my stomach ever since. Many days I’ve felt overwhelmed while you’ve been at war. Which sounds silly. I’m thousands of miles from Israel. The hardships you are enduring are not happening to me. But sometimes, well nearly all of the time, it feels as if it is.

So I went to a Yankees game hoping it would get my mind off of you. Instead, the game and the team I have loved for decades seemed kind of silly. Each time the “boys would take the field” I would think of those in the IDF taking the battlefield.

The thing is, Israel, I love you a heckuva lot more than I love the Yankees. It hurts watching what you are going through. I worry about you. And I’m mad at much of the world for hating you.

Obviously, J.D. Salinger didn’t have you in mind when he wrote the following line, but he easily could have been describing you when he wrote, “She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there, holding the universe together.”

That’s simply all you are doing. Holding the universe together. Yet, those blind to who you are and what you are doing seem hell bent on destroying you, not realizing that in essence, they are unraveling the world in which we all live in.

Yes, I’m fanatical enough, or I guess in this day and age I would be described as a right-wing extremist, so I’m extreme enough to actually believe what the prophets of Israel wrote about you. I actually believe that you are the #1 bearers of Hashem’s Light in this dark world. And I believe that Hashem honors His name through you. The fact that there is no other nation that the G-d of the universe decided to attach His name to is rather extraordinary.  Which in my book makes you rather extraordinary.

But setting those spiritual reasons aside, I just really like you. I like and admire your toughness, your bluntness, your caring attitude, your humor, your “take on life,” your intelligence, your ingenuity, your resilience, your beauty – the list could go on and on. And though it might not feel like it right now, there are so many others who share my same sentiments about you.

I live in a very small town, but weekly, and sometimes daily, someone from my community expresses their concern to me about you. (And yes, the fact that people associate me with you, Israel, is something I am so proud of and humbled by at the same time.) Fellow moms will give me a hug and tell me that they are praying daily for you. Or moms who haven’t had time to watch the news will ask me, “What is happening in Israel right now?” When I tell them about the intense situations, they get tears in their eyes, shake their heads, and say that they are praying for you.

Many of us watching from afar can’t put our fingers on it exactly, but we sense deep down, Israel, that what you are going through this time around is different.  As my sweet daddy said to me, “When I heard the news that Israel was sending ground troops into Gaza, I cried.  I don’t know why.  But I did.”  It just feels different this time.  I can’t imagine how it must feel to you.

So I wanted your week to start off by being reminded that a lot of “average” people love you and are deeply concerned about you.  We aren’t holding up signs at rallies.  But we are holding you up in prayer. And we are hoping that somehow our prayers will help you keep holding up the universe.

With Love & Concern,

Your Biggest Fan