Eryn London

Being Here and Being There

Over Shabbat I saw a group of kids (10/11 years old?) looking at a ‘Bring them Home’ poster at shul- the one that has all the pictures. I didn’t hear all that they were saying, but they were looking at each person. I was just struck that this poster is part of their shul life. That although they might not know all the details of what is happening, they know that something happened, they know that they are in trouble and that these faces need to be looked at. 

I am not sure how the past 6+ weeks have gone by. I still feel in shock and I know that I am not alone. Although somehow, God knows how, life is still going on — I am still playing with my daughter, still going to work, still reading and watching tv, still doing grocery shopping and planning Shabbat meals, just still doing the things. 

And even more miraculously, I see happy events occurring. People are still being born and having celebrations. People are still getting married. People are still celebrating birthdays and other life accomplishments. And these things are not just happening here outside Israel, but are happening in Israel, sometimes on Army bases. 

And then there are moments when it comes crashing back, and not just when I am constantly checking the news, Facebook, and Instagram. 

It is first thing in the early hours of the morning, worried about what might have happened while I was sleeping. Or even more strongly the second Shabbat ends, fearing the feeling of being cut off once again. 

It is when I’m walking to the tube and thinking about how I don’t have to think of where the closest bomb shelter is (there isn’t one anywhere nearby). 

It is every time my daughter snuggles into me. Lately, she has been very clingy, and her favorite thing is to be held in the shower. I stand there with the warm water running down her back, her snuggling in as tight as she can — and all I can think of is those little kids that are still hostages. The snuggles they want but aren’t getting (or hopefully are from someone, but it isn’t THEIR person). The pain that their parents feel of not knowing, not hearing their laughter, not seeing them learn new things, not being able to watch them grow (and I am praying that they are still able to grow). 

It is something that someone says in the office, that makes me remember I am in an office at work, far away — but inside so close. Did I lose the concentration for a minute? Is that bad? 

It is the last thing at night – checking once again. Praying that it will be a quiet night. A bit guilty that I am able to go to sleep, that I know there won’t be an air raid siren, that I know at least here, it will be ok. 

Life is not at all how it was 6+ weeks ago. I was recently looking back on Facebook, and right before Simchat Torah I posted about my daughter’s love of Torah right now. How she gets excited to see the Torah and calls out ‘Torah’ whenever we pass shul (which on a normal day is at least twice a day). And on Simchat Torah, she was so happy. She was dancing and singing and even sat through 30 minutes of Torah reading. At the time I did not know all that was happening – and how different the day was for so many, a day of terror and mourning instead of the day of joy.

And since that night,I am walking like a zombie, and being in two places at once. Somehow I am here doing all the things I need to do, and somehow my heart and soul are there in pain, scared, and feeling helpless. 

About the Author
Rabbi Eryn London lives in London. She is a freelance Jewish educator, chaplain, and rabbi living in London. She is involved with a number of projects within the UK and the global Jewish community.