Akiva Gersh

Telling My Son about What Happened in Jerusalem

When I got home from work today, I was afraid my 8-year old son was going to ask me. Ask me about the shooting, the axing, the murder that took place in Jerusalem.  In a shul.  In a shul!   While Jews were davenning.  The place where we go to stand before our Creator and praise and plead and cry and ask all those questions beginning with, “Why?”

During those precious moments of morning pray, two beasts in human form entered with death in their eyes and violated our holy space and ended the lives of four members of our nation.

Now, we’ve been instructed by the Chief Rabbinate not to pray in a synagogue unless there is an armed guard present.

Armed guards at the entrances of our synagogues??

What is happening here in the Jewish homeland??

In the wake of the 2nd intifada, at the end of which my wife and I made aliyah, I, along with everyone else in the country, got used to the armed guards standing alongside the doorways leading into banks and cafes, bus stations and supermarkets.  I’ve come to expect them and even appreciate their presence.  But a synagogue?  The place we step into to retreat from the craziness of our world for but a few moments each day? To pray in peace.  To pray for peace.  Not only for us, but for the whole world.

And in Israel of all places?  Here we need to place guards to protect those inside from the animals roaming the street outside?

As Jews, we have come to this land so that we can be free.  Practice how we want.  Pray as loud as we want.  Be Jews openly and without fear.  Wear our Magen David necklaces out without a second thought.  Let our tzitzit fly around in the blowing wind.

But the evil forces are working hard once again to show us that even in our own homeland we can’t be free.  Even here, in our one little sovereign corner of the world, we must fear, like Jews do on the streets of Paris.

But they won’t succeed.  Because if my son does ask me tomorrow about it, I’ll tell him what happened.  And it won’t be the first time he’s heard about Jews being attacked solely for being Jews.  This summer he followed the kidnapping and murder of Naftali, Eyal and Gilad and, in the weeks following, ran to my phone every time my Tzeva Adom app starting beeping to see where the rockets were landing.  It’s not a reality that I am happy about or proud of, but I know that it has one very powerful side effect.  One that the terrorists never considered.

He’ll know even more that he’s a Jew.  He’ll understand, already from a young age, who he is and who his people are.  And the importance of doing all he can and all we can to strengthen ourselves as individual Jews and as the Jewish nation.  So that the Jewish people will live on. As we always have.

So let the politicians work on the political level and let the security officials work on the security level to put an end to this violence.  And let us, the everyday residents and citizens of the Jewish state in the Jewish homeland, work on the everyday level to ensure an even stronger future here for the Jewish people.



About the Author
Akiva Gersh has been working in the field of Jewish and Israel Education for over 20 years. In 2020 he founded @Israel to share his love and passion for Israel with students, schools and communities around the world through his online classes, courses and virtual tours of Israel. Akiva is also the editor of the book "Becoming Israeli" (, a compilation of essays that gives an inside look at the unique experience of making aliyah and the journey of acclimating to life in Israel. Akiva himself made aliyah in 2004 with his wife Tamar and they live in Pardes Hanna with their four kids. You can learn more about his work at as well as about his work teaching about Judaism and veganism at
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