Rivka Ravitz

Mothers’ broken hearts

“My heart is broken.” The scribbled letters, red marker on white burlap, cried out to me amid the more polished signs decrying the “end of democracy” and proclaiming “the duty to resist” in gleaming black and white. At the Jerusalem demonstration, between outbursts of rage on the one hand, and schadenfreude on the other, we broken-hearted mothers stand, I thought. We’re present in all camps, in all fragments of the camps.

My heart has been broken for some time. Broken by the horrific scenes and stories coming out of Syria and Turkey, by the appalling images of war that inundate our consciousness, by the pictures of blue-eyed Yaakov Yisrael and Asher Menahem Paley, the sweet little boys murdered in a terrorist car-ramming in Ramot, by their father, who couldn’t accompany them on their final journey, and especially by the pictures of their mother, Dvori Paley. She’s late in a pregnancy, has lost those dearest to her, her worst fears have all materialized, yet she’s still so strong and unifying a figure. My heart is likewise broken by the pictures of Hallel and Yagel Yaniv, the boys murdered in Huwara. By their mother Esti, who in a soft but powerful voice accepted the decree with love. Esti, who has been involved in assisting bereaved families, and now finds herself among the bereaved.

The astonishing power of mothers. How good we are at consoling, encouraging, connecting. After all, when one of your children quarrels with the other you come to reconcile them, to find the middle path, and always with equal love for both sides. And that’s what we’re lacking here. A loving glance, the constant reminder that we, whether we want it or not, are part of the same family. And this home belongs to all of us.

A reminder that compromise is part of our Israeli-Jewish identity. That in Judaism, arguments are solely for the sake of Heaven, and not for their own sake or to hurt the other. Or to crush him. It goes both ways. If both sides are so terribly damaged, how can victory be declared?

In my broken heart I know, as every mother knows, that only with love can compromise be reached. Maybe if there were more mothers in the rooms where our wars are conducted, we’d be better off.

About the Author
Rivka Ravitz is a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI). The mother of 12 children, she is a member of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community. Ravitz served as chief-of-staff to the 10th president of the State of Israel, Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin. 
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