In corners of the internet, some people have expressed the feeling, that the world Jewry is ignoring the plight of the Jews of Israel. That we are not engaging with the strife of terrorism and the fear that is now the reality of their daily lives. That we don’t know what it’s like to send our children to school or spouses to work, and be concerned they might not return home. Perhaps the oceans between us remove our ability to fully engage with the current plight of Israel. That living in Galut makes us less authentically living in the history of our people. By choosing to live in Galut, we have abandoned our collective destiny.
I am the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, who identify as refugees. Almost every generation before them, were practically nomads, for they moved when the Anti-Semitic tides turned. My ancestry is littered with European languages, their escapes and opportunities. Growing up I had always felt marked by my grandparent’s miraculous flight from the grasp of the Third Reich. I carried the inter-generational trauma, and their triggers I purposefully preserved to serve as warning signs. The word “Zachor” now rings like a Pavlovian response to the rise of antisemitism in the world at large.
When my family was welcomed by the statue of liberty and assured of their freedoms, they embraced America in order to pick up the pieces of their fractured families. As the hierarchy of needs dictates, they first sought shelter, and through the next generations they were able to live again. They did not feel that redemption was nigh, but were merely grateful that they could continue living the traditions of their ancestors, ensuring their families were educated in the ways of the Torah, and tried to rebuild what was of our shattered people. They preserved legacies, they continued the mesorah, and they gave birth to generations of champions for those causes. Devoted Zionists, my grandparents and parents gave money, dedicated their lives to raising money for the land, and cultivated my mind to know for certain that Israel is our homeland. They taught me that we need the land of Israel so that we can defend ourselves when the tide inevitably turns again.
As child of the peaceful 90’s, the ideal of Israel became more than a place to run. I had the opportunity to luxuriate in the study of tanach, and traveled the country with my bible open. I felt the same dust that caked ancient sandals, I prayed at the very same holy spots where our history was made. I raised my eyes to the mountains of that land and whispered, “Esa eini el heharim me-ayin yavo ezri.” I had the privilege of reciting the same prayer that my family had prayed for two thousand years, a prayer for the redemption of Jerusalem, in the city itself. In the peace of my youth, I wrapped the warmth of the land around my dreams, my future and my healing family.
My adulthood has seen violence in our world, and now I am raising a family on this broken planet. While my adolescence begged me to be a pioneer, my grown up sensibilities are questioning whether I will be an immigrant by choice or a refugee like those that came before me.
Today it would be hard to say that the Jews of Paris don’t fear for their children who go to school with armed guards, or that the Jews of the UK don’t look over their backs on the streets of London. There are knives being used against Jews in Brooklyn, and news that ISIS is planning attacks in Washington and Times Square slide into our consciousnesses. We would have to be blind and deaf to be ignoring the plight of the Israeli Jew, because it’s not the word “Israeli” that inspires the violence. It’s the word, “Jew.” The headlines from Israel roll down our news feeds, and we are all communing with you through our computers, wallets, prayers and nightmares.
Now, I feel the drums of redemption pounding in my pulse. I can almost hear the blast of the shofar and see the light that exists in all this darkness. To the Israelis that are born and bred, you have been blessed with the holy mission to transform and traverse the land so that our people can come home. To the olim who have come before me, you are the fulfilment of prophecy. But for the rest of us still left in exile, realize that our brothers, sisters, friends and family are lone soldiers, students, or have finally gone home to raise their families or retire in Israel. Our loved ones are walking on those holy and blood stained streets too. They are guarding the borders and waiting for buses, and walking with their babies.
The families left in exile are experiencing a new fracture, and pieces of our hearts go with those we love when we kiss them goodbye at the airport, as they begin to live our collective dream. As I write this, my own brother is preparing to enter the IDF in a few short months, a new chapter in the history of my healing family. Please remember that all our destinies are wrapped up in each other, because we the Jewish people, are one nation with one heart. Of course we care.