Thursday night, my parents are concluding their visit to Israel. Before taking them to the airport for their early morning flight, we decide to spend the evening in Tel Aviv for some last minute shopping and eating. We walk through the posh shops on Shabazi street in Neve Tzedek. While my mom is buying earrings, the salesperson receives a call. A bomb has fallen in Rishon LeZion, further north than anything so far. I understand that this brings the conflict to a whole new level, but I try not to panic my parents. As we are walking some more, the air raid siren sounds. No one seems to know what to do. We go into an ice cream shop – it seems safer than being on the street. The young woman at the counter is in a panic – she has no idea where the nearest shelter is. She says, “I was 3 last time bombs fell in Tel Aviv [during the first Gulf War]. How am I supposed to know what to do?” The alarm ends. We hear a boom.
Later, with my parents at the airport, I am reassuring them that I will be safe, that their grandchildren will be safe. They are worried about me, but all I can think about is a sign of my age. 4 years ago during Cast Lead, I was worried about my contemporaries who had been called up for reserve duty. Now, most of them have aged out of their service, but I have many friends with children in the army, and it is for them I am concerned. If a conflict every 4 years is in our future, next time around, my daughter will be on active duty. How did that happen so fast?
Friday, I am checking Facebook. My feed is full of friends sharing political messages supporting Israel. My friend Yazeed from Ramallah (a classmate from my MBA) is the lone voice giving me a different perspective. I write a blog post trying to express my conflicted feelings, but feel like I did a rushed job of it with the preparations for Shabbat.
Shabbat morning, the shul on our kibbutz is emptier than the night before. My rabbi comes in a bit late, looking tired and haggard. I soon understood the reason for both. During the night, many men had been called up for reserve duty, including my friend and the rabbi’s son, Rami. He had woken his father at 1:00am to tell him that he was going, and to ask if it was permitted for him to bring his tefillin with him on Shabbat. Knowing Rami, I don’t think the question was so important – it was a way for him to reach out to his father, the halacha a way of distracting him from the deeper question – will he be safe?
Saturday night is the conclusion of Chodesh Irgun, the month in which the Bnei Akiva youth movements kicks off its activities. My kids had been in the scouts in Raanana, but in Maale Gilboa, Bnei Akiva is all there is. There are ceremonies, cheers, a play and lots of fun. The theme is נאמנים לדרך, “true to the path”, and I wonder what the hell that means, even as I am glad that my kids are feeling part of something greater than themselves, with values that I (mostly) identify with – Zionism, Torah and Derech Eretz. The youth group leader talks about the importance of continuing with the routine even as we prepare for war. I don’t know how I feel about that.
Sunday morning, I am at work, reading my e-mail. I find myself crying. I am not sure why…