As I celebrate with immense joy and gratitude for this miraculous country I feel something gnawing at my heart. The best way I can describe it is like the experience I had on the happiest day of my life; my wedding day. It was a dream come true. Finally, I was to build a life and live forever with my beloved. However, just as that dream was fulfilled I found myself in tears at the sound of the shattering glass as everyone present began solemnly singing “Im Eshkacheich”. Even though I had just undergone an amazing monumental event that would change my life dramatically there remained a huge void that tempered my joy. The Beit Hamikdash is still gone from our midst and we have yet to rejoice fully at the arrival of the ultimate Geula.
Although we have this beautiful country and we celebrate her anniversary on Yom Haatzmaut, that feeling of the shattered glass sits at the bottom of my heart. It is much more than a void that has yet to be filled. What really got me was when the siren went off the night of Yom Hazikaron. I was in the kitchen with my kids and I hadn’t realized the time so the sound of the siren startled me. It stopped me in my tracks and I said “Siren!” so that my kids should stop what they were doing and stand in silence out of respect. My six year old started to head for the security room confused from last summer’s events thinking that the siren meant to seek shelter. It broke my heart. I realized once again how we are limited in our freedom. It got me to thinking of our many fears, precautions and restrictions, even though we live in a “free” country.
I am reminded of these every day.
I am reminded as I await daily to hear from my son in the army that he is OK.
I am reminded as I await every day the safe return of my daughter from her school that is surrounded by unfriendly Arabs.
I am reminded when I can’t take certain roads lest rocks, nay boulders, be hurled at my car.
I am reminded every time I go somewhere and get my bags checked.
I am reminded as we cannot go freely to Har Habayit, that Jews have restricted hours and are forbidden to even utter a word of prayer at our holiest site.
I could go on, but the point is made. We are forced to deal with this awareness every day and it places a damper on our true freedom. We celebrate our independence, but I hope and pray for the day when we are truly free to live in peace and security in our homeland.