Shani Weinmann Kay

It should have been

This Tuesday I got engaged. I can’t believe I am saying that because that night was a blur of many emotions and events, but yes, I am engaged. Usually, I would have had a celebratory night with the family or a party or even just time to enjoy the reality that I am going to be married to someone I really love. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of those things due to an hour of rocket fire throughout many central cities in Israel.

Instead of the night out with the family, we spent the time not even in a bomb shelter, but in the basement of a nearby mall. As I called my grandmother to tell her the news, I prayed she didn’t hear the booms sounding in the air because I didn’t want her to worry and wanted only to warm her heart with happy news. However, I myself wasn’t happy. Can you imagine? I just got engaged. One of the happiest moments that should have been was spent scrolling the news for an hour and praying and worrying about the state of my home and ALL its people.

I worried for the Jews and Arabs living in these cities and I worried that we would be safe driving on the way home. I worried about the residents of Gaza who have to deal with terrorist organizations governing them instead of distributing money for food, water, and vaccines. I worried for the people of Jerusalem as I listen to loud booming sounds every night wondering what is happening at this exact moment and is everyone alright. I worried for all the people who are losing their homes in all places due to the rocket fire. I worried about the people of Lod who are living a hell that is way too reminiscent of World War Two and the pogroms for it to be taking place right here. Four synagogues have been burnt and holy books thrown into the fire, cars have been blown up, lynchings are no longer an evil of the past, open fire into courtyards, ambulances being attacked on their way to do their job among everything else. 

So no, I wasn’t beaming with joy and every time a friend called to wish their congratulations, the words, “Is everyone okay? Are you safe?” followed. That is not a normal question to ask someone on the day of their engagement. I was not happy because others all over the country were suffering and I couldn’t find the place in my overwhelmed heart from which to express my joy. I was thrilled and elated and in a whirlwind of amazing feelings.

However, I am not the kind of person who can easily put aside the knowledge that my country is suffering and that everyone seems lost and confused. I also am not the kind of person who can keep quiet when people who don’t live their lives here comment uneducated and misled statements about Jews and Palestinians and Arabs without knowing that this is one of the most multifaceted and complicated conflicts to ever exist because there is no solution that everyone will appreciate or accept and sometimes I think there is no solution at all. I am saddened as I always am when our tiny little country is the central topic of countries and people who barely know where we are located and what the population is. I am worried once more when I see the posts that make people like me look a certain way and I am equally angered when other posts make people not like me look a certain way. After all that has manifested across the world about equality and sensitivity to ethnic groups, we have not left 2020 with any useful tools for this delicate discussion? Have we not developed enough over this last year enough to respect our fellow humans and I mean ALL fellow humans? 

This human got engaged and instead of spending last night surrounded by friends and family from near and far, celebrating this special time in her life, she stayed close to home with some other dear humans who made her feel the way she should have felt the night of her engagement: lucky, overjoyed, blessed, and happy. This human is praying for the time where it will be safe to celebrate with those who currently are stuck or evacuated or in a bomb shelter and finally have an opportunity to feel normalcy in rejoicing. I want this country to feel like a safe place again so we can all have our moments to rejoice in peace.

About the Author
Shani Weinmann Kay was born in Atlanta, Georgia and grew up in the Jewish community of Toco Hills. She attended Torah Day School of Atlanta and Yeshiva Atlanta before coming to Midreshet Harova and then joining the IDF. She is studying Dance and Psychology.
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