One question that people in Israel are asked daily by family, friends or colleagues is “Are you ok?” I am not sure there is a person in Israel that can answer that. We may be good, we may be hanging in there and we may be getting by but no one can truly say they are ok. But what is even more challenging is trying to understand our new normal.
Over the last month, many of the discussions we have had with other parents centered around what this new normal is. A few days ago, I paid a shiva call to a friend whose father passed away from old age. At the shiva house, he remarked on how the funeral had more people than they expected and one of the attendees said to them that people were happy to attend as it was their first “normal” funeral in weeks, and not a funeral of another fallen soldier. The way we think and approach our daily life and everything going on all around us have now become the new normal but that doesn’t make them normal.
Your life is not normal when you need to ask people if it is acceptable to go out for a drink or dinner or is that insensitive.
Your life is not normal when a community is digging graves at the cemetery because the military section is full, and they need to prepare for more.
Your life is not normal when we are now asking each other at dinner time why Hamas is late with their 6pm rocket barrage, only to say our clock must be fast when it happens at 6:03.
Your life is not normal when your kids try and guess over which city the Iron Dome intercept took place based on the decibel level of noise from the boom.
Your life is not normal when you spend your nights driving equipment and soldiers from base to base.
Your life is not normal when your white noise to fall asleep is fighter jets flying overhead.
Your life is not normal when you can listen to the bombing and differentiate between the IDF bombing Gaza and the Iron Dome interceptions.
Your life is not normal when your kids are being taught by substitute teachers because all their real teachers got called up to the army.
Your life is not normal when their teachers text them with pictures and videos in full military gear and then come back to school in uniform to surprise them on their day out of the army.
Your life is not normal when you drive around the whole country grilling hot meals for soldiers against the backdrop of bombings.
These are just the tip of the iceberg, and yet, this is the new normal here in Israel.
As Israel embraces its new reality, our sense of normalcy has changed. Israel is not the same country it was on October 6th and never will be. Yet Israelis are resilient, and we will survive, recover and thrive. And we hope and pray that our new normal, full of unity and chessed is here to stay.