Tami Lehman-Wilzig

Personal Pain

No, I don’t have children or grandchildren serving in the army. They are either too old or too young.

No, I am not living in a city suffering daily rocket fire. There have been sporadic sirens, “nerve,” not earth-shattering.

No, my business is not a war casualty. Been there, done that. I’m a retiree with a sideline of being a children’s book author.

But the personal pain is deep and searing. For me. For everyone. On a near daily basis. Seeing the faces of soldiers whose lives have been extinguished is heartbreaking. Watching and listening to the unbearable agony of the hostage families is heart-wrenching. Hearing the non-stop stories of those who narrowly escaped Hamas horrors is harrowing. Understanding the stress of over 130,000 uprooted Israelis, families of four or more crammed into hotel rooms ideally suited for two, for months on end, leaves us the “lucky” ones heavy-hearted.

All of this is the background “music” to our daily existence. It was easier to be optimistic four months ago. Now the mood is heavier and harder, and I ask myself: “Are our walls of Jericho falling down?”

Two-thirds of my life has been spent living in this crazy country of last minute miracles. For close to five decades I have watched it evolve from a stumbling backwater into a pacesetting technological center. In my own small way as an English advertising copywriter for a large percentage of Israel’s major exporters, I played a role, helping them create curiosity about their products, providing them with the tools to put their best foot forward and place this country on many maps.

In typical Israeli fashion, customers became family and while the contact with most eventually petered out, the memories of their achievements remain strong. So when Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak was attacked by Hamas on October 7th, I instantly recalled my work with their packaging plant, Polysack. When news reports came in about crops being ravaged and farmers suffering, I wondered how many of their fathers and mothers sat down with me to explain their latest exotic fruit or vegetable during the decades I helped Agrexco, then Israel’s major agricultural exporter. And now as we collectively hold our breath about the situation up north, I sink inside when the list of communities forced to take shelter flashes on the upper corner of the TV screen. There they are, the many kibbutzim with industries that were my clients.

My tears don’t stop. Their achievements flash in front of my eyes, as do their antics, last minute deadlines, totally inefficient efficiency that only Israelis are capable of. All that they have accomplished is now under threat. A history being destroyed, one that is part of my personal annals. A journey that began before Aliyah, when I volunteered on Kibbutz Ma’ayan Baruch. Its name also appears on the TV list. It too has been evacuated.

I can’t help but think how my father was able to trace his family roots to ancestors expelled from Portugal during the Inquisition. How finding safe harbor in the Austro-Hungarian empire was not short-lived, but not permanent either, ending in the death of my grandmother in a Nazi concentration camp, and my father and aunts seeking safe refuge in yet another shore. And here am I with my family, finally living in a Jewish State that has amazed and thrived, now fighting for its very existence.  Another safe haven? Will this always be the fate of the Jewish people? The eternal refugees? The people everyone loves to hate? The continual butt of hypocrites the world over?

The personal pain is deep. Yes, I will travel, but I will not move. This is our homeland in every sense of the word, and we will rebuild.

About the Author
Tami Lehman-Wilzig made Aliya in 1977 with her husband, Professor Sam Lehman-Wilzig. She is an award-winning author of 13 published picture books, and three more on the way over the next two years. Her books include “SOOSIE, The Horse That Saved Shabbat,” “Keeping the Promise,” “Nathan Blows Out the Hanukkah Candles,” and “Passover Around the World.” You can find out more about Tami and her books by visiting
Related Topics
Related Posts