As long as deep in the heart
The soul of a Jew yearns
And towards the East
An eye looks to Zion
Our hope is not yet lost
The hope of two thousand years
To be a free people in our land
The land of Zion and Jerusalem
Recently, an email has been circulated by members of various synagogues stating that the Israeli ambassador and the Minister of the Diaspora would like Hatikvah – “The Hope” – the National Anthem of Israel – “to become the most popular video on You Tube by April 16, 2015, the 68th anniversary of Israel’s Independence Day.”
This particular tribute by P. C. Anton was first uploaded to the World Wide Web on February 8, 2009 and a similar message was sent out in 2013 on the 65th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel.
Nevertheless, it is still of utmost importance for us to remember and share the hopeful message of Hatikvah – that the State of Israel was founded as a homeland for the Jewish people and represents “the hope of two thousand years, to be a free nation in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.” It is this hope that is inspiring many French Jews to consider immigrating to the Jewish homeland in the aftermath of renewed horrific and anti-Semitic attacks in France.
And it is this hope that drives Israelis to live and raise their children in Israel and refuse to allow the terrorists to stop their way of life in spite of their fear and anxiety. It is also this hope that inspires those who were injured in terror attacks to overcome their distress and despair, to rebuild the almost unrecognizable pieces of their shattered lives, and to triumph over the terrorists. In the face of overwhelming disaster, these people have discovered for themselves that the meaning does not lie in the disaster, but in the way they respond to the disaster.
Viktor Frankl, the noted neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor stresses the freedom to transcend suffering and the defiant power of the human spirit to make healthy choices and embrace life. He teaches that “When we are no longer able to change a situation … we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Yael Danieli, a clinical psychologist, victimologist, traumatologist, and Director of the Group Project for Holocaust Survivors and their Children, describes this awareness of options or choices as hope. “Even when one cannot exercise an option, one might at least think it, believe it, wish for it, or dream about it. All of that is hope.”
So what is the meaning of hope to some survivors of terrorist attacks in Israel? I’ve previously written about Shoshana Gottlieb, whose life was changed forever by a senseless and horrific terrorist attack in which a bullet severed her spine. She hasn’t given up anything. She still hopes that “maybe Christopher Reeve’s people will find some cure.”
Christopher Reeve is also idolized by Andalau (Elad) Wassa, an Ethiopian Israeli brought to Israel in 1984 in “Operation Moshe” and paralyzed in 2002 by a suicide bomber. According to Elad, Reeve’s visit to Israel in 2004, a year before he died, “will bring hope to a lot of people, who, like me, are confined to a wheelchair … and feel as if their whole world has been destroyed.”
After his ankle was shattered by terrorists’ bullets, RH also really wanted to walk. His recovery was helped by his hopeful optimism, hard work, and having a high goal: “I need to think optimistically and also I need to work very hard to change because to do nothing for myself – it’s not going to be.” He was married exactly a year after he was wounded, walking a few steps without crutches, having achieved his secret goal.
Avraham Robinson, in his sixties, has the wisdom of age. After surviving a deadly bus bombing, he is hopeful, optimistic, and positive. “I try to see in everything the half-full glass, not the half-empty glass. I think I try to get some benefit from this wounding.” Although he still suffers from symptoms of posttraumatic stress and is afraid to be in crowded and closed places and to use public transportation, he continues to work very hard as an orientalist, “even if I don’t feel well,” and as an ardent advocate for peace between Arabs and Jews.
Arnaud Harenstein was gravely injured and miraculously survived a terror attack in which his wife Yafit was murdered, saving him and their two young daughters. He sums it up beautifully: “Even though it is my life, the story is an interesting story. It has everything in it. There is death, there is love, and there is hope.” Arnaud’s mother-in-law, Iris Yihichya, adds that “The pain, of course, is here. It is like a hole that cannot close. But, together with the pain and hardships that we always carry with us, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
These survivors of terrorism so vividly demonstrate that “as long as there is life, there is hope” [R. Yohanan in Jerusalem Talmud, Berakhot 9:1]. And, as long as we continue to believe that the State of Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people, there is hope!