Johanna Rose

My View from the Ground: When the Mundane Becomes Holy

When is eating a slice of pizza an act of kindness?
When the restaurant owner has a young family and has invested his life savings to open his own business. And then a month later, he is called to reserve duty to safeguard his family, his community, and his nation. When the last employee who hasn’t been called up to the army, posts on Facebook inviting the locals to come and eat pizza so the nascent business can stay afloat.

When is buying socks an act of patriotism?
When the citizen army is roused on a sleepy Saturday to run to the southern border. In their haste, they haven’t packed enough clean clothes. Now one month in, the soldiers are still in need of replenishing basic supplies. While there is present danger in the south, the terrorists in the north have a cache of 160,000 Iranian missiles that can knock out our national infrastructure, as in electric grid, internet, water supply. The least we can do is make sure they have clean socks to stand guard and to march into harms way.

Shabbat basket donations from the bakery. (Image courtesy of author)

When is picking kumquats an act of courage?
When over 10,000 foreign farm hands have (understandably) fled the country because many in the same position were kidnapped and killed by terrorists on that ill-fated Saturday in October. Israel’s world-renown agricultural sector could collapse if the crops aren’t picked, and the fields aren’t sown for the next harvest. That’s when you put on your close toed shoes and wide brimmed hat, lather up the sunscreen, and pack several liters of water to head south. Or in the case of the cowboys from Montana and Arkansas, you hop on ELAL and fly half-way across the world to lend a hand. It’s brave because they continue to launch rockets and,  the only protection the field offers is to lay down with your hands covering your head.

Picking kumquats (Image courtesy of author)

When is baking challah an act of solidarity?
Well, always. But now the sense of urgency is heightened. Baking challah is one of the special times when women petition the almighty. Groups of women have been gathering across the world at communal challah bake events. Here, a grassroots group gathered to bake challah and to pray for our soldiers at a kosher restaurant that has closed its doors to the public and has dedicated itself to providing thousands of meals for the soldiers and displaced families.

Baking challah at Pankina (Image courtesy of author)

When is optimism the only option?
Today. Yes, there is still so much darkness. Our hearts hang heavy in our collective chest. We yearn for the return of our hostages, for the safety of our soldiers, for the end of a world bent on destroying us. At the same time, we have seen the art of the possible—Israelis jumping into action to support our country, our army, and our future. World Jewry is standing up to join us—sending funds, attending local rallies, petitioning their governments, and coming here to volunteer.

In every generation, we have been tested. This is our generational test, and we are rising to the challenge. With every step that we have taken over the past 30 days and with every step we will take for the foreseeable future, we once again resoundingly prove Am Yisrael Chai.

About the Author
Johanna made aliyah with her husband and golden retriever during Covid in November 2020. In moving to Israel she is living the dream she has had as a virulent Zionist: 4th of 5 generations of Hadassah life members, a former AIPAC Area Director, and pro-Israel political activist.
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