Michelle Rojas-Tal

A young mother’s fear

This morning, I packed an extra treat for my baby in her bag for nursery school. A plum. My very curious and independent one year old loves to eat fruit whole. Plums and nectarines are her favorite. I watch her like a hawk and she stares at the specimen; rolling it back and forth between her hands. She is fascinated by the shape, the colors…everything about this tiny object sparks her wonder. She slowly eats the fruit. Taking time to chew each tiny piece…

Her five teeth don’t really allow for much more. She is independent. She is proud. She is full of excitement over this small act. And it brings me all the joy in the world. But the truth is, I am watching her every move. I don’t leave her side for a second in order to ensure she doesn’t take too large of a bite or reach the pit before I am able to take her simple joy away…

So this morning, when I put the plum in her bag I thought twice. Of course I would tell her sitter to watch her every move; to only allow her to eat the plum when she would be able to devote her full attention to her. And yes I would send not one but three text messages throughout the day to remind her. Some even sounding slightly threatening. I would question sending the plum in the first place. I would have images running through my mind nonstop. Knowing everything was fine but still imagining the G-d forbid scenarios. A plum. A little tiny plum would cause a young mother distress for hours on end.

When I came to pick her up from daycare, she raced her way towards me, as she does everyday. I scooped my little girl into my arms, hugged her and kissed her, as I do each afternoon when I pick her up. But today, just a bit tighter. She was ok. This beautiful little being that G-d has blessed me with was perfect. Not a hair out of place.  Not an extra blink of an eye. She was just fine. Safe and secure.

And now, as I sit here reflecting on this tremendous tragedy that has beseeched an entire nation, I can not help but think of Eyal, Gil-ad and Neftali’s parents and their moments as young parents. When their biggest fear was making sure their beautiful, innocent boys didn’t take too big a bite of a plum, slip in the bath, fall off of their bikes…all of the “fears” that parents have.

Those fears will never exist again for these young men. For an evil,  greater than words can describe, gave their parents no chance to protect them. No reason. No demand. No chance to save them.

We stood together as a people. We shouted their names to the world. We shared their story and pictures. We took photos and hung ribbons and prayed and lit candles. We did all that we could knowing in so many ways, we were truly helpless.
We did not let our fear overcome our optimism and hope. But in the end, our greatest fears became reality.

No parent should ever know such a reality. No one should have to bury their child.

The evil that has taken these young boys from their parents, their siblings and an entire nation who saw the innocence of who they were, is the pit of that plum. That evil, the very bite too big for us to allow our children to take.

I truly hope that parents around the world stop for a moment. To think of Gil-ad, Neftali and Eyal. And to think of their mothers and fathers; to try and understand that we are fighting to protect our children from the greatest of fears no parent should have to face.

About the Author
Michelle Rojas-Tal is a global speaker, trailblazer and advocate on Zionism, Jewish identity, and Israel engagement. Amongst her current projects, Michelle serves as the Zionist Scholar-in-Residence at Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America.