A Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama,

I am devastated. You see, I am a proud American. Born and raised in our beautiful country with all of the incredible advantages our country offers of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And I have spent a lifetime being happy.

Especially at this time of the year. We love celebrating Thanksgiving and I have taught my seven beautiful daughters what Thanksgiving is all about; being deeply grateful that we live in a country that is open, tolerant, diverse, loving, and welcoming to all. And every year for more than two decades, we have celebrated and watched the Thanksgiving Day parade either on Central Park West or snuggled beneath a blanket on our couch Thanksgiving morning.

We wave our flags on July fourth. We remember our brave military on Veterans and Memorial Day. And we vote. Ask my daughters and you might get an eye roll for the lessons we discuss every time we go to the voting booth and they have ALL joined me in the voting booth. We discuss democracy and that voting is both a great responsibility and a privilege. And we always discuss the Suffragists and how we must be thankful to those that paved the way for us as American women.

I remain a proud American, but now I am terrified that if I die in Israel, you won’t care. My family recently moved to Israel fulfilling a lifelong dream. But we didn’t run away. We certainly didn’t renounce our citizenship. Much of our life remains in New York with our immediate and extended families and we plan on returning regularly to visit and to enjoy what we believed would always be an important part of us. We are excited to have three daughters that will be able to vote in the upcoming presidential election and there was no doubt that we would all vote.

But the death of Ezra Schwartz has been a cold, painful slap in my face. And I am left hurt and confused. Every person needs to feel like they matter, in a real way, in an existential way. Of course I matter to my family, but for some reason, I always believed I mattered as an American and that my country would protect me if I needed to be protected. That my country would care if, even abroad, I would be harmed or threatened.

But now I know the truth and I feel orphaned and untethered. And I am left wondering that perhaps I have been patriotic to a place that has never really believed me to be one of their own? Could it be possible that as a Jew, my life simply does not matter as much? or at all?

I know that I should only be thinking about Ezra’s bereft family, and the other families that have been unfairly and prematurely torn apart by ruthless terrorism all over the world. I am crying for them. I have a horrible empty pit in my stomach trying to imagine every parent’s worst nightmare. But this is also on my mind. And I feel petty and self- centered thinking about me and my place as an American Jew. But Mr. President, your silence about Ezra’s murder is deafening.

About the Author
Dina is the President of Jerusalem U, an innovative media organization that creates films and digital content to strengthen young Jews connection to Israel, the Israeli people and their Jewish identity. She is also the proud mom of 7 lively daughters, a recent Olah to Israel and working hard to bring more joy to humanity and more awesome to the world.