Rena Magun

Don’t count your chicks; remember, they were snatched

The children and babies kidnapped on October 7 and held hostage by terrorists in the Gaza Strip. (Israel's official Twitter account)
The children and babies kidnapped on October 7 and held hostage by terrorists in the Gaza Strip. (Israel's official Twitter account)

Who among us has not dreamed, either during the day or the night, of the joyful return of the hostages? Who has not replayed the beautiful scenes in their minds of families reuniting? Who has not imagined those delicious red haired toddlers crossing over to safety? As a nation we ache for this collectively. We need it, we crave it…we must have it in order to inch forward in our very slow healing process. And after almost 7 weeks of excruciating waiting, it seems that we will finally get it. Well, sort of.

To all my wonderful, sensitive, compassionate, fellow Jews with huge hearts and deep souls: WARNING! We are in for the most horrible emotional roller coaster that any of us could ever imagine. Well, actually we can’t imagine, because we are not wired that way. We are not cruel or diabolical or Satanic which are the basic requirements needed to be a soldier of Hamas. I am not telling you anything you don’t already know. I am just making it crystal clear.

The last 48 days have been the most painful I have ever known. I am confident that almost every Jewish and Druze citizen of this country shares that sentiment with me, as well as some Israeli Arabs and many Jews from outside Israel as well. My son is serving on the Northern border and many of our friends’ sons are deep in Gaza, making breathing, walking and sleeping somewhat difficult for my husband, David, and me. Three of our children and their families live in the line of fire (one without a safe room and one with no shelter at all); so my red alert app goes off many times a week as I hold my breath waiting for them to check in. We watch way too much news at night, still (!) hearing fresh survivor accounts of gruesome killings, seeing families weep about their kidnapped loved ones, or watching new footage (released last night) of giddy terrorists driving into Israel praising Allah for the fact that no one is stopping them on their rampage of death. We attend funerals, make shiva calls, and stand on the street with flags as families make their way to the cemeteries. We see videos of terrifying crowds in countries around the world in seas of red, green, black and white calling for us to be wiped off our homeland, and worse. And every morning as we open our eyes, we turn to our phones and brace ourselves for the daily, steadily mounting death toll of our beautiful young soldiers alongside their 30 something commanders who are dying proudly for our country.

So to say we are not prepared emotionally for what is coming is a bit of an understatement.

But ready or not, here it comes. In fact as I was watching the press conference last night, listening to Bibi, Gallant and Gantz talk about the first group of hostages coming out tomorrow, I was already writing this blog in my head. I hadn’t even dragged myself up from the couch yet to go to my computer before the first shenanigan was pulled. “Breaking News—Just kidding…the first hostages won’t be returning tomorrow; in fact, we aren’t even sure when it will happen.” You could almost hear the air coming out of the balloons…

Please…prepare yourselves for every eventuality; for the most sophisticated psychological warfare the world has ever seen. Changing the schedule is only the beginning. Those Hamas murderers will do everything they can to torture us in this hostage exchange nightmare. The Hamas savages will split families, sending one child one day, and another 3 days later, if at all. The Hamas butchers will bring us a body instead of a person and say, “Oops, we forgot to let you know”. The Hamas barbarians will break the rules of the ceasefire and kill our soldiers knowing that we will not react so fast so as not to endanger the rest of the deal. And many other horrible things that we can’t think of. Because we Jews, we don’t think that way. We value life above all. We believe that every life is precious. And unfortunately, they know it. Just like the Nazis before them knew it. Same demon, different uniform. And we can’t be someone we are not. We just can’t. And so, when they dangle 50 women and children before us, we say yes…because at this moment in time, 50 is better than none. And we can’t take a chance that if we hold out for a better deal, it might not come.

To my tenderhearted, life-embracing fellow Jews…we have been trying so hard to recover these last 6 weeks, scooping ourselves and each other off the floor daily, volunteering like crazy to numb the pain, and marching with the families of the hostages. The next chapter will be brutal..please..take whatever emotional strength you have left in you, and build some strong walls around your shattered hearts. Wrap multiple layers of gauze around your wounded souls. Shore up your defenses in whatever way you can. Be prepared for terrible disappointment for it will surely come.

To the families of the hostages…we walk alongside you as you enter this house of horrors. We will rejoice with those of you that come out with more than you went in with. And for those whose lucky day hasn’t come yet, and are still waiting, we hold you close, and will continue to pray, shout, march, demand, cry… whatever we can to help you on this roller coaster ride from Hell.

Am Yisrael Chai.

About the Author
Originally from South Jersey, Rena and her young family made aliyah almost 30 years ago. With a BA and MA from Penn, Rena spent most of her professional career as a devoted Jewish communal servant/ Zionist educator, working for places like Hillel, JTS, the JDC, Ramah and Melitz. Today she loves the independence of working with her Rabbi/tour guide husband doing B’nei Mitzvah for families celebrating in Israel. The proud mother of 2 sons, 2 daughters, a daughter in law, a son in law and grandmother to 2 delicious grandsons, her best days are when her children thank her for making aliyah.
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