Yesterday evening, we received a text: “The Hostage families are asking everyone to arrive at the Kidnapped Square in Tel Aviv at 8 pm,” so naturally, I was there. We keep hearing that the families fear their loved ones might be forgotten, and while I understand that concern, I hope they realize that most of the nation, and surely all of us present at the rallies, can’t stop thinking about them. It seems that the hostages remain in our thoughts during the day and appear in our dreams at night.
Standing with thousands of people, facing the stage at the square, I saw tears streaming down people’s faces, the mood was so heavy that it was hard to breathe. While waiting for the families to return from Jerusalem, where they concluded their 5-day march from Tel Aviv to the capital, several singers performed solemn songs. Among them, Danny Robas who told the crowd that when he feels despair, he goes back to the kind of music which is his “safe place.” In his case it was the Beatles’ and the song he chose was “Here Comes the Sun”: an unexpected yet hopeful message for the audience, reassuring them that things will get better, or in the words of the song: ”it’s alright.”
Listening to the singers while waiting for the families, it struck me that we, the fortunate ones who didn’t suffer a personal loss in this war or have been experiencing a paralyzing dread of having loved ones held hostage in Gaza, must tread cautiously to avoid appropriating the personal tragedies of these families. We must maintain a respectful distance, to support but refrain from intruding upon their sorrow. It’s not as easy as it sounds, Hamas massacre on October 7th left all of us bereft. Yet, it’s crucial to acknowledge that while our grief is great, it pales in comparison to the families’ pain. Let’s not confuse our sorrow with theirs: our families are intact. Perhaps this wish to belong to the families, and share their sorrow derives from a highly developed ability to empathize, but it doesn’t help. As Neta Heiman Mina, the daughter of Ditza Heiman (84), who is held hostage in Gaza, explained: she needs our actions, not our empathy. So let’s take a step back, and remember that our ability to put pressure on the government to bring back the hostages now, depends on our resilience and wellbeing.