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Dance. Argue. Pray. Repeat.

On the many ways Israelis keep it together under stress, including the camaraderie of being stressed together

Live in fear. Rage against the machine. Demonstrate. Drink copiously. Laugh as if this were all a cosmic joke. Attempt to reason with unreasonable people. Dance like nobody’s watching. Pray that God shows up and fixes this, if only we will do whatever it is we have to do…

I wanted to know how everyone’s coping with the current crisis. So I indulged in a little social media surfing. Canvassing my friends’ and fellow bloggers’ Facebook and Twitter accounts is almost as good as interviewing people.

One friend, a young mother, wrote a heart-wrenching piece about how she is affected, nearly paralyzed, by the “vortex of terror.” I feel for her without judgment. It’s easier to pretend courage when you don’t have little people relying on you for their bread, their clean socks, their budding self-worth.

A couple of other friends post with biting anger. “WHEN WILL WE ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS INSTEAD OF SUBMITTING TO IT?” they ask, and justifiably. I feel their pain — yet rage is not the place I feel at home.

I receive an invitation to demonstrate at a location near my community where several innocent children have been slaughtered. “TAKE BACK OUR STREETS.” I am so with them. Will they think I am a bad mother and grandmother if I stay home to mind the grandchildren, and show up for work on time? I hope they know that I know that they can handle this, but that my heart is with them.

Those who hide in drink have my empathy — but like so many options, this option does nothing but take one away from the pain. I have never found that particularly helpful. Stay safe, dear ones. Don’t destroy yourselves for them.

I love the jokers. They give me a moment’s laughter. Some of them are morbid lite. “Remember in grade school the old joke about sticking a sign on someone’s back that said ‘Kick me’? Why do I feel that we’re all wearing signs that say ‘Stab me’?”

Some of them have delicate hidden meanings under their apparent jokes that touch my heart. A fellow blogger wrote such a great line that I must credit her (and I hope she won’t mind).”They are coming at us with rocks and scissors. Me, I’m sticking with paper.” Thus said Jessica Levine Kupferberg. (Look her up on TOI. You’ll like her work.)

There are those who write beautifully and persuasively about how if we could all just sit down and think this out, we could be rid of the poison of hatred forever. I admire them — but I think they are speaking to demons, rather than to rational men like themselves. But I will not fault them for their efforts. I would love to be wrong in my assessment.

There’s the “dance like nobody’s watching” crowd. I’m probably sort of in their camp. I’ve taken to drinking the good wine and using the good china now, rather than waiting for that future day. Because the future day may or may not come. And I’d feel really annoyed if I saved something for another day and left the world before I could enjoy it. This includes looking my family in the eye when we take our leave every day from each other, and putting my cell phone in my pocket when they need to talk.

Then there’s the group of holy friends who are working every day to bring the Mashiach, God’s messenger who will make everything all right. We should thank them, because they do this work not by demanding that everyone follow some seventh-century law that condemns “the Other” to a brutal death, but by avoiding speaking gossip, by treating others as they wish to be treated, by praying fervently for world peace.

Remember Jessica’s rock/scissors/paper post? One of my favorite wags responded to Jessica thus: “I’m sticking with the biggest weapon: Hashem.” To which Jessica, on a roll, came back: “He wrote the ultimate paper.”

I give all of us credit for “keeping it together,” each in her or his own way. What I see among my friends most of all is encouragement. I see lots of Facebook “Likes”; reposting to enlighten others, or to give them strength; good-natured argument without vitriol — a “we’re all in this together” camaraderie.

Little do our enemies understand it — but this tiny, quiet virtue is our secret: while they battle not only us but each other, at the end of the day, we know that we are brothers and sisters. And we know that we will, somehow, survive.

About the Author
After serving in the US military, Ruti Eastman (aka Ruti Mizrachi) married her hero, homeschooled four sons, and intermittently worked in the field of education over a span of 30 years. She has worked in radio, has played in several bands, and teaches harmonica and percussion. Ruti and her family made aliyah in 2007. She currently maintains two blogs, one about Israel, called “Ki Yachol Nuchal!” and the other about general topics such as family, childrearing, marriage, and family history, called “Never Ruthless." Ruti Eastman has published two books of essays on the above topics, both available on Amazon.