I remember when I first found out that my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was working on a report on Golda Meir; I was in seventh grade. At the time I didn’t understand what that meant but I knew it was bad news. The second time I got the call, I was in college, in a car with a friend. Later that day, I was grocery shopping with my roommates, zombie-like, wondering to myself “do they even notice my pain?” The third time she told me it had returned, I was standing outside my favorite coffee shop in New York. I knew the drill. The moment my mom said “Are you busy? Can you talk?” my stomach sank. This was happening again.
My grandmother Luba (my namesake), a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp, had moved to Israel to live a better life. She was a widow, and a mother to my uncle, when she met my grandfather, Israel. They went on to marry and have two daughters; my mom, Ziva, and my aunt Aviva. At age 14, my mother and her siblings had to go through what no child should; my grandmother became ill with cancer and lost her battle to the disease. I can’t even begin to imagine that pain.
For a woman who has now successfully fought her third bout of breast cancer, my mom has been extremely strong. Faced with the reality of having to do more chemotherapy and more radiation therapy she displayed true bravery. She always has. For that I am proud to be her daughter.
What does this have to do with the new year? Well, frankly, this last year has been hard. For my mom and for my family; but also for Israel, my second family, the one who’s consumed my Facebook posts. It was difficult for our brothers and sisters in France and the rest of Europe, and for the Jewish people as a whole. Through these difficulties, though, we found companionship and compassion. We cried together as we buried the sons we considered our own. We strengthened each other when it seemed bleak. We fought many battles with the outside world while my mom was fighting her own internal battle. From all that, I learned that we don’t have to go it alone.
I would like to wish a happy, healthy peaceful 2015 to all of you. To the people who have lost their loved ones over the last 5 months in Israel, may God comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. To the injured and sick, may you have a refuah shlema, a speedy recovery. Finally, to the state of Israel, we stand behind you, strong and brave. To quote Golda Meir: “Pessimism is a luxury that a Jew can never allow himself.” Don’t give up.