Meira E. Schneider-Atik
marching to the beat of my own drummer

Only We Jews…

It’s impossible for any one person to be good friends with everyone. Not only does no one have the emotional energy for that but not everyone has points of connection. However, since October 7th, the hostages’ families have been trying to publicize their plight and they’ve been offering points of connection. And so many of us are responding.

As I write this, there’s a photo that I just saw of Shiri and Yarden cuddled together. That photo, along with other photos and videos that I’ve seen of them, remind me of my husband and me. And as a mother, I can connect with the photos of Ariel and Kfir- I want to cuddle them just like I once cuddled my own children (who are older and won’t cuddle so much now). 

Yesterday, there were video clips from the October 7th abduction of Agam, Daniella, Karina, Liri, and Naama. While I agree with releasing that footage (if it gives people some moral clarity, then it’s worth it), I couldn’t watch it myself. I could be the mother of each of these young women- my own daughter is in the same age group- and I can’t imagine what their mothers are feeling. Plus, with the last name of Levy, I have a small connection to Naama. My maternal grandfather was a Levi and one of my great-grandfathers on my father’s side was also a Levi (he was named Meir and I’m named after him). 

A few weeks ago, I heard Rachel Goldberg, mom of Hersh, speak at a rally in NY. Several people called out to her “we love you Rachel” and I was wondering if she’d even get a chance to speak. But speak she did and she had us all crying with her. 

In the past, whenever I’ve seen or heard or read about Jews in danger, I’ve noticed that we tend to mobilize and try to help as best we can. And I’ve often commented that “only we Jews can carry on like this over people we’ve never met.” I’ve never met any of our hostages or their families but I’m carrying on over them. So are a lot of my fellow Jews and a lot of non-Jews (yes, we notice and we thank you). 

There are those who think that we should be celebrating the deaths of terrorists and their leaders or at least feel some joy. I won’t argue with it but I can’t feel that. When Osama Bin Laden was killed several years ago, all I could think was “it’s about time.” Some months later, Gilad Shalit was released from captivity and that left me smiling and crying happy tears. I even sobbed at the brachah of “Mattir Assurim.” In the early weeks of this war, if I heard about any terrorists being eliminated, all I could think was “OK. But I’m still worried sick over our hostages.” But in November, when we had the hostage releases, THAT left me smiling and crying happy tears. My shul wanted us to say the brachah of Mattir Assurim together and I started sobbing so hard that I had to go out for a minute.  

Meanwhile, I’m seeing the news about the protests at colleges and elsewhere and I’m seeing and hearing people saying things like “what about the Palestinian children?” But just how many of these people even know anything about the issue at all? Can any of them even name a Palestinian child who got killed in all of this? And are we supposed to care more about other children than about our own? I’ve heard of some actual mothers of hostages being asked “don’t you care about the Palestinian children” and it makes my skin crawl. I’m not directly related to any of our hostages but I still think it’s disgusting to ask that. Because Naama, Liri, Karina, Daniella, Agam, and the other women are our daughters. Shiri and Yarden are our couples. Ariel and Kfir are our little ones. Hersh and the other men are ours. We’re connected to them and we care about them. 

 I do not expect to be good friends with any of our hostages or their families once they’ve come back. But I hope they know that we’re all connected and that we care so much. I hope they know how we carried on over them even though we’ve never met them. And I thank the families for sharing and allowing us to connect. 

Only we Jews can carry on like this over people we’ve never met. 

May Hashem bring them all home alive and safe very soon.  

About the Author
Meira E. Schneider-Atik is a wardrobe stylist, personal shopper, and writer/blogger. Her goal is to help women feel good about themselves and to dispel the myths about tzniut and dressing well. Her heart is in Eretz Yisrael, but for now, she and her family live in Queens, NY.
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