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Chavi Feldman

Our New Normal

Our country was collectively holding its breath on Saturday night waiting for the next group of hostages to be released. After a rather smooth exchange on Friday night, we were hoping for the same on Saturday.

Unsurprisingly, Hamas decided to delay the return of our people – which unfortunately did not surprise anyone.
And while we have all become more accustomed to feeling intense joy and terrifying dread at exactly the same time – let’s call it our new normal – it’s still a new and complicated emotion that we are all learning how to navigate.
Between funerals and weddings taking place on the same day, to heartwarming heroic stories reported next to horrific footage, we’re all feeling like our hearts are being torn in two, minute after minute, day after day, week after week. And it’s not ending anytime soon.
And although the idea of heartbreak sounds like something out of a romance novel, something not really physical, I think we can all attest to a very real physical manifestation of a deep pain in our hearts.
Outrage for the delay last night, I prayed for things to get back on track and when they did – more than 5 hours later – outrage took a back seat to euphoria.
Then fear trickled in when I hugged my brand new son-in-law who had spent an amazing 2 days with his new bride and was now on his way back to fight. “Don’t worry,” he said, “we’ll take care of it.”
And now a new emotion pushed it’s way in between the outrage, the fear, the euphoria. It’s worry – worry for our soldiers, worry at what Hamas has been up to during this 4 day ceasefire. Worry that they are making our soldiers jobs much more difficult. Worry that as the days pass, less and less of our people will be given back.
I don’t know any of these people – likely most of you don’t know them either – but they have become familiar to us and they have burrowed their way into our hearts. I saw an interviewer talking to Ohad Munder’s best friends. One boy refused to celebrate his birthday because he and Ohad always celebrate theirs together, having been born 4 days apart. No, he wasn’t upset about not celebrating this year – he said there’s nothing to celebrate until he’s back with us. And one boy – how my heart broke – was worried about his friend’s glasses, worried that Hamas had taken them from him, worried that he can’t see without them.
These kids.
These kids.
And then the euphoria made way for sadness and outrage once again, since discovering that these families were split up, sister without a brother, a child without their father – a direct violation of the deal that was agreed on – and this cruel selection reminded me of the Holocaust selection in the concentration camps. Dividing families, splitting up loved ones, terrorizing our men, women and children.
This psychological game that these terrorists are playing at is painful and it gives them joy and glee to cause this kind of mental torture on families that they have continuously been torturing for over 50 days. As if until now, that hasn’t been enough.
And then there was a little pride that snuck in as well, when I saw Adina Moshe, one of the older women returned, push the hand of the terrorist away. It was subtle, but hardly a small act of defiance.
It was pride, it was Jewish stubbornness, it was a sign of survival. Good for her.
And now, for the third day of this deal, we will be feeling this whiplash again. We are all hoping to see the 2 redhead babies with their mom and dad, the 3 year old Avigail who does not yet know she’s an orphan, and I’m hoping to see more of the injured who desperately need medical attention, but I’m preparing myself for another delay, another painful ache in my heart for those who weren’t lucky to make tonight’s list.
I can’t stop thinking about the MANY hostages that are not included in this deal at all – when will it be their turn for freedom – for something that should have never been taken away from them in the first place.
When will our hearts be whole again?
About the Author
Chavi Feldman has a degree in graphic design and advertising and works primarily as a music teacher. She has lived in Israel for more than two decades.