Her America

She woke up to the somber newspaper images that told of the ongoing struggle.

Ma’alot, May 15, 1974. A school was attacked by Arab terrorists. 25 hostages, 22 of them children, were murdered – gunned down and blown up by grenades.

Plans for a demonstration in New York City in support of Israel and to condemn Arab terror were set in motion. Its focal point, the UN. Some Jewish day schools were busing in their students .

She wanted her school to be involved too. It didn’t make sense to carry on as if nothing had happened. She tried to rally her friends and her fellow junior high students but barely a handful seemed to care. She went to the principal, Rabbi something or other, and offered to help organize the students, the buses and to get the permission letters from parents. But he dismissed her as just another annoying kid and mumbled some excuse about some fictitious logistical reasons that rendered him unable to arrange it.

As a last ditch effort, she approached one of her teachers who she thought was as passionate about Israel as she was, hoping he would lend his support in moving the principal to act. He smiled at her, and said, “Are you sure this isn’t just a way to get out of school for the day?”

She didn’t answer him. She couldn’t.

25 of our people have been murdered. Three adults and 22 of our children will be buried today, and this is what you say to me? With a stupid smile on your face, no less? 

The absurdity of his accusation was too incredibly unfathomable to her that all she could do was stare at him, a look of shock meshed with disgust in her eyes that burned with the heat of her anger. Her racing emotions, almost too overwhelming for her small and delicate frame to contain, halted the words that fell from her heart and stopped just short of the swelling lump in her throat.

Besides, she was taught to respect her rabbis and her teachers and knew she had to hold her tongue. And so, without a word she turned away from the teacher she had once revered, walked into an empty classroom and sat herself down. Alone with her thoughts, her eyes scanned the walls around her, each lined with posters that preached about midot and halacha. And at that moment she swore to herself never to become like them.

Thou shalt not stand idle by thy brother’s blood. What she learned in her school would not become empty words.
She leaned forward, her head fell onto her crossed arms that rested on the desk and began to silently weep.

Courtesy: Their Eyes Were Dry
Courtesy: Their Eyes Were Dry
About the Author
Author of THE GILBOA IRIS (Gefen Publishing House) and SETTLING FOR MORE: FROM JERSEY TO JUDEA (Urim Publications).