Last Friday night, a friend joined us for dinner. It was her first visit since the Simchat Torah dinner on Friday, October 6th, less than 12 hours before the tragedy that shook our existence. She brought gifts: lettuce and sweet potatoes from the Gaza Envelope (Western Negev) and a black T-shirt with the inscription October Seventh, but the word chosen was the Hebrew word “Shiva.” I gladly added the lettuce to our salad, kept the sweet potatoes for another meal, but left the T-shirt aside. I cannot bear even to look at it.
During dinner, we naturally discussed the situation. Fortunately, there were no air raid sirens, and our conversation went on without interruption. I’m sure that our Friday night discussion was similar to what transpired in many other homes across Israel. It feels like we’re trapped in a nightmare and can’t wake up.
My friend expressed her fear that things might worsen here, and she was right: from everything we see, we have no reason to trust those who are in positions of power in the government and in the coalition. However, I surprised myself at my reaction to my friend’s concern. I admitted that, at this point, I can’t think about it. I have to push those fears aside, or else I won’t be able to keep going. What sustains me now is volunteering to pack meals for soldiers, maintaining my exercise routine, staying connected with loved ones, and documenting life in Israel through my blog on Times of Israel.
In 1982, when the first Lebanon War broke out, my daughter was three months old. That was the first war that I experienced as a real grownup—a mother. At that time, I felt that caring for my newborn and focusing on her kept me going. So, when a young friend wrote me an anxious email expressing similar fears about the future to those of my dinner guest, I suggested that she’d hug her baby as much as possible and added that I knew from my war experience that it works.
For those with loved ones in Gaza, repressing fears is not an option. Yet, for the rest of us, it’s crucial to persevere. There will be plenty of time to start processing our tragedy afterwards.
For dessert, we ate pomegranates that I too had bought from the farmers in the Gaza Envelope. No one who looks at this lovely symbolic fruit could guess what happened in that region just 37 days ago. Bring back the hostages now.