Jerusalem Assembly 1“Hey mommy, we had such fun today. We barely touched our textbooks. We were practicing for the ceremony”.

My 8-year old daughter was jumping up and down in her excitement.

“What ceremony?” I asked.

“I dunno. We have these Friday morning assemblies and this time, I get to sing and dance. Will you come watch me?… P L E A S E???”

“Sure,” I answered. It was her first time participating in a school event since we returned from three years in the States.

An hour later, dumbfounded, I stared at the WhatsApp message sent by her teacher.

“Dear Parents,

Tomorrow’s ceremony begins at 8:30. I hope to see you all. The actors should be dressed in military uniforms and the dancers in black pants and white shirts. The announcers should dress in black pants and white shirts. If your child is an actor and an announcer, he should wear the military uniform”

The message ended with a pretty flower emoji.

Sweet.

The situation clicked into place. The mysterious ceremony was in honor of Jerusalem Day.

Assembly 2

In a quiet, upscale suburb of Beersheva, third grade boys would dress up in military gear and re-enact the battles of 1967.

Jerusalem is truly a magical city. Significant to three religions, its streets are a microcosm of both the despair and the hope embodied in this seemingly intractable conflict. I can envision a myriad of enchanting Jerusalem themes for children to perform.

War is not one of them.

I once again looked at the WhatsApp message. I wanted to keep my daughter home from school. Yet she so wanted to dance in this ceremony commemorating events about which she knew nothing. I sat her down and we discussed the beauty of Jerusalem and its diversity. We also spoke about how sad it is that an educator would decide that little boys should reenact war.

“My brothers will have to go into the real army in a year. Why would they have little kids already making believe?” she asked.

I don’t know. Why would they?