Early Friday morning, I wrote an impassioned article. In the craze of anger and resentment I journaled about women who harassed me, insulted me, and wanted to tear me down. I hypothesized about its roots in competition, jealousy, and the Shidduch Crisis. Then, the cool quiet of Shabbos descended and filled me with its serenity. I listened to a rabbi in Los Angeles speak about “Eyin Tova,” and after the Shabbos meal my father and I opened up Mesechet Shabbos to learn it inside.
Today is Yom Yerushalayim. It is a day in which the browns and beiges of the Old City transform into blue and white. Jerusalem stone becomes a dance floor. The Weeping Wall metamorphosizes into celebratory tears. The Kotel Plaza echoes a frenzy of song. I’ve written three pieces about negativity. I felt the poker of anger melt my internal organs with its heat. Today is a day for the City of Fire to blaze its torch of redemptive positivity.
Yes, women tear one another down. We compare bodies. We spread rumors. We exclude. In times of war and crisis, presumptions and prejudice are excused. When I was a young girl, outfitted in my Bais Yaakov plaid skirt and its matching putrid green polo, I would tell my classmates, “My father lost all his friends can you imagine?” It’s not that surprising I didn’t have that many of my own. Yet, from a young age I was told the importance of camaraderie.
In May 1967, my father was drafted into the army. He had only one month remaining of his senior year. While at Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls I made art using pen and paper, my father filled sand bags. In midst of basic training of the Paratrooper Brigade, my father was sent to Ammunition Hill with a stretcher. He was told to evacuate the wounded. In the devastation of war, the commanding officer asked for volunteers. My father rose to the opportunity. The officer glanced at him quickly, pointed his finger, and said, “You.” Because he was a skilled boxer, he navigated the trenches by deflecting every grenade. He emerged unscathed. He was one of six.
In a whirlwind miracle, he was directed to a truck. Emerging from the dust rose the Western Wall nondescript nor imposing. Yet, the seventeen year old חלוני from Tel Aviv began to cry. The shofar sounded. His nose marks the picture of the three men memorializing the event.
In the past few weeks, I was told I am delusional and narcissistic. I was told I am misguided. I was told curse words. I cried on my bedroom floor for three hours crushed by the weight of cyber aggression. Yet, my father has never given up. He has never crumbled. He has never yelled. He has never encouraged negativity. He walks with a smile on his face, trauma in his chest, and Torah on his lips.
Today is Yom Yerushalyim. It is one of the hardest days for my positive, energetic, kind, loving father. On Yom Hazikaron, Columbia did not allow organized events due to its reading week. Instead, the Hillel organized a Tekes two days prior. I was instructed to light a candle for the lives lost in the Six Day War. That morning, I called my father with the dew still sparkling my sneakers. “Hi, Abba, I have a hard favor to ask you.” I could hear his smile. “Sure, what do you need?” I prepared myself. “Can you please give me the names of your friends who died in the Six Day War. I want to honor them.” The line quieted. I heard an intake of breath. “Golda, can you please stop I see their faces.” I ended the conversation with the guilt of his pain causing even the dew to weigh down my steps.
The world is marred by negativity. Inequality rages in the Beit Midrash. Fascism reigns in the political sphere. Anti-Semitism grows like a Hydra of Hashem’s mystical creation. Yet, in the spirit of Yom Yeurshalyim, let us rejoice in the sacrifice of those that teach us positivity.
I am not a boxer. I only play with sand on the beach. I can barely converse in conversational Hebrew without “העברית שלי לא טובה.” However, I was born to be an Israeli: resilient, generous, and optimistic. With my father’s legacy in our minds and מזרח in our hearts, let us bring Jerusalem to our lives with its redemptive positivity.