Day 22 of the War: Nothing Prepared Me for That

'Anyone who is late in redeeming the captives, where can be early, is as if shedding blood' (Shulchan Aruch Set Table), a sign on Kaplan Street. (courtesy)
'Anyone who is late in redeeming the captives, where can be early, is as if shedding blood' (Shulchan Aruch Set Table), a sign on Kaplan Street. (courtesy)

I still can’t believe it. Exactly three weeks ago, on Shabbat October 7th, our world as we knew it fell apart. This is the third time it has happened to me. The first two times were personal tragedies, nothing compared to what we’re going through now, but I recognize the feeling.

Around Shavuot in 1994, my husband lost his job. In Israel, when something like that happens, it’s not the end of the world, as there is always plenty of support around from family and friends. But we were in Texas on our own, a family with 2 young children, and losing a job meant that we had no resources, no way to pay the mortgage and no one to rely on. I remember my husband’s face when he unexpectedly returned home in the middle of the day and conveyed the bad news. The following morning, I woke up with dread, and then I told myself, “My world as I know it collapsed, but  we will prevail.” And we did: in less than a month, we were back in Israel.

The second time was in 2007, following five months of uncertainty and pain, my husband died of lung cancer at the age of 55. I remember thinking that our previous experience in Texas had prepared me for such an unbearable loss as we were able to rebuild a good life in Israel. But losing my husband was nothing like losing a job, a home, and a sense of worth, it is not something you ever get over,  you just learn to move forward with your life and find happiness.

October 7th was the third time my world fell apart. I’m one of the lucky ones. I haven’t lost a family member or a loved one, and as I live in Ramat Gan, my home is still standing. But ever since that black Saturday, there isn’t a moment that goes by that I don’t think of our collective tragedy, and the hostages in Gaza. Every day, we  hear more stories of brutality and sheer evil. Just this morning, I heard about a bus with a group of seniors from the southern town of Ofakim that went for a day trip to the Dead Sea. On the way there, they stopped in the town of Sderot to pick up more travelers. The bus had a flat tire, and while detained, Hamas found the group and executed all the elderly people.

It’s unbearable, and there is no end in sight, nothing prepared me for this.

About the Author
I hold a PhD in English Literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, specializing in writing about issues related to women, literature, culture, and society. Having lived in the US for 15 years (between 1979-1994), I bring a diverse perspective to my work. As a widow, in March 2016, I initiated a support and growth-oriented Facebook group for widows named "Widows Move On." The group has now grown to over 2000 members, providing a valuable space for mutual support and understanding.
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