Jerusalem. So far from you, I hear your name in the news. Living here, in the diaspora, amongst buildings that strive to be taller than the dreams I have – I get so distracted. And yet, you remain a distant place in my mind that I secretly long for.
The world sees you as a place of conflict. A problematic piece of land forever subject to dispute. A call for terror. Blood shed.
I am reminded of all the days and nights I’ve walked upon your ancient stones and modern streets. The sweet kiss of old and new longing for a future that is safe for ALL people. I am reminded of the magical moments in which I owned your streets and made you my home. Buried under all the thousands of years of tears and blood shed for you, you are still filled with hope and love.
You are a land filled with the remnants of all types of people that love and hate each other like true siblings. Neighbored face to face with their cousins – an eternal feud raging. Beneath all the headlines – you will always be the sweet Jerusalem to me. I will forever hold onto the moments of clarity and understanding for the path that you helped paint for me. The way your stones look golden in the night, proclaiming their hope – a true city of zahav. The way my eyes are drowned in the sea of green fabric, worn by the youth, forcing them to mature. The way your streets are filled with children and people, all different shades of kippas, skirts and pants, laughter, screaming, phone conversations – the most beautiful hustle and bustle bursting with life.
If I forget you Jerusalem…How can I forget you?
Yesterday I was shaken by the message that I received from Israel, sent to me by my best friend at 1 o’clock AM in New York… “There was an attack in Har Nof this morning, two terrorists went into a shul on Agassi with axes and guns while they were davening.” Yesterday morning, as men were calling out to the Infinite Creator, just as the sun was rising, two barbarians came in and released 4 souls back to their creator al Kiddush Hashem.
I couldn’t stop thinking why…… why G-d?
The sudden chills that ran up and down my back, the tears that welled up in my eyes and the anger and confusion that filled in my heart, this at first was the only response that I could have. I was numb the entire day. It hurt to smile. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that these men were calling out to Hashem and at that very moment they were reunited with Him. These barbarians came in and slaughtered them in the name of the same Allah. The same G-d. Those poor women, who are now widows. Their poor 26 children, now orphaned. No child should have to say Kaddish.
This subtle, quiet community, on the Western tip of Jerusalem that I called home for a year and a half, was hit. This was not the West Bank. This was no “disputed territory.” This was not even the Old City. This was simply a Jewish community filled with so much love and life. This is a community that stands for the study of Torah. Everyday these men were learning and living the words of Hashem.
You, Har Nof, of all neighborhoods? The way your mountains scream the hand of G-d. The way the sun kisses the sky every time it leaves you. Har Nof literally means the Mountain View. The terror attack happened in a place that is known for its view. Maybe this is a subtle sign that we need to change our view. Something is not right in how we view ourselves, how we view others, and how we ‘view’ Hashem. This is what is hidden in the tragedy of the ‘Nof.’
Those that hate us do not care if we have a kippa or not, if we say Kiddush or not on Friday night – what we eat, what we wear, whether we live in or outside of Israel – they don’t discriminate between us. They want to spill the blood of Jews regardless of who they are. “Who is wise? One who learns from every person”. We need to learn from our enemies that we cannot discriminate between each other. There is nothing a father wants more than for his children to love each other unconditionally. When our people face tragedy – we become one. This is when we begin to hold hands – whether wrapped in tefillin or not.
Being 6,000 miles away from my people, a thin thread connects us – the hate against our people begins to not only rise in Israel once more, but even in our very own exiled backyards. In Brooklyn that same day there was an anti-Semitic attack on a train – a man was beat by 3 others and was called a dirty Jew. This leaves us with only one thing to trust in – G-d.
What needs to be changed inside of us? If the Messiah is a state of mind of being ready for change – we are there.
Today, it became so clear to me how no place is truly safe. I may be shaken from what I saw, but I have one message, an old proverb, for all those that are trying to take my people down: “You try to bury us – but you do not realize we are seeds.”
You try to beat us up, you try to hit us where it hurts – but your hate only makes us stronger. You are not the first and you will not be the last. We will never cease to exist. As Rabbi Sacks said, “We live with the past, but not in the past… Jews don’t look back. What the Jews died for – let us live for.”
The nation of Israel lives.
This is dedicated to an aliyah for the souls of Rav Moshe Twersky, Rav Aryeh Kupinsky, Rav Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, Rav Kalman Zeev Levine, and to the righteous soul that tried to stop the evil that he saw: Zidan Saif.
It is also dedicated to the complete refuah shlema for Eitan ben Sara, Shmuel Yeruchum ben Bayla, Chaim ben Sara, Chaim Yechiel ben Malka, and Yehudah Yehoshua ben Rivka Atta Brenda.