Thank You for Thinking of Those of Us in Israel

Over the last week I have gotten various emails from family, friends and students in the US reaching out to tell me that they are thinking of me and my family during this horrible and very difficult time in Israel. It means a lot to me and to everyone here to know that we are being thought about. That other people are thinking about us and thinking about what it must be like to live here right now. No one here wishes that our loved ones would truly understand what we are going through. But when someone writes and says that it is hard for them to just go about their normal life in America because they can’t stop thinking about the changes in our day to day life here in Israel — it means A LOT. It means that you really care. It means that you don’t just sympathize, but you empathize. It means that you are really imagining the thoughts that are running though our minds round the clock and the little things that we just can’t believe are part of day to day life right now.

It means you might have realized that:

I drive to work with my doors locked, my windows closed, my cell phone set on the number of the moked (the local security command center) and my pepper spray next to me in the car.

I sleep with a knife in my night-table drawer.

I had a conversation with my husband about what should happen with our kids, G-d forbid, G-d forbid… and then wrote it down to keep in my file cabinet because we don’t yet have a formal will. I thought I was crazy till I heard that lots of other people have done similar things.

I was sent a short movie by MDA (Magen David Adom) about how to treat a stab wound.

I watched a video on Ynet (Yedidot Achronot) on how to defend yourself against someone stabbing you…and then sent it out to everyone I know.

I was sent protocol from the yishuv about what to do if someone is trying to shoot at your car. (Brake suddenly so that the bullets don’t hit and then do a quick U-turn.)

I haven’t shopped at my typical supermarket in two weeks because I can’t yet bring myself to enter a store where Palestinians shop freely. I don’t want to pick out my potatoes with one hand on my pepper spray.

I thought twice and three times about whether I should let my third grader go on his class trip today. I watched him leave my house, gave him extra kisses and had extra kavana in my tefila, but I don’t want to raise him to be scared.

I’ve wondered whether the various Israeli Arabs that we have worked with in different capacities over our time here and had such nice relationships with are going to appear in the news any day. We thought they were peaceful until we saw that one of them had a WhatsApp picture of the Jerusalem light rail being stoned.

I had to share with my son more than I would have because Nechemia Lavi was his classmate’s uncle and the school let us know that the psychologist would be meeting with the class.

I have a sister who now has doubled her driving time to Jerusalem, because the old route she took is more concerning.

I just wish that I could stay in Alon Shvut all day. Ironically, the well secured yishuvim are the safest place you can be right now.

And yet if you also know me well you might have also realized that:

I don’t regret our aliyah decision for a second.

I feel privileged to be living in the place where Jewish destiny plays out before our eyes.

I know I am in the place where I am supposed to be. My kids know it too, They have not once asked to go back. They live with a fierce commitment to the values our ancestors lived and died for. They actually understand the Hebrew words they daven daily and thank us for bringing them here. The place they mention in tefila all the time.

I have bitachon — trust — that I am in G-d’s hands. That He is in control. That if He wants something to happen or not happen, it doesn’t matter where I am. That He knows what is best even if we don’t always understand.

I have emunah — faith — that eventually things will improve. That this will also pass and that we will wake up to a brighter day.

The people of Eretz Yisrael are strong.

I smiled and then I cried the other day when I saw two teenage girls standing in the middle of the big traffic circle at Tzomet Hagush — all alone– just swinging huge Israeli flags out there in the exposed open — because they wanted to send a message.

For many of us, it is our kids who keep us strong. Some of us have kids who are soldiers — who couldn’t come home for Shabbat when they were supposed to because of the matzav (situation), yet they go out and serve their country proudly and bravely and without complaint.

I have younger children, but today I heard one kid tell another that we need to be working on our middot so that Hashem looks upon us and all of Am Yisrael favorably. That gave me chizuk — it made me feel a little stronger. It gave me something to do. Because there is not much else we can do.

So when you are thinking about us:

Daven a little harder, learn a little extra, be a little nicer, give a little more tzedaka, work on your middot a little….and let us hope that Hashem looks upon us favorably and says “Enough is Enough.”

Thank you for thinking about us. It means a lot.

About the Author
Shayna Goldberg teaches Israeli and American students in the Beit Midrash l'Nashim-Migdal Oz, an affiliate of Yeshivat Har Etzion. She is a Yoetzet Halacha and a contributing editor for Deracheha: She made aliyah with her family to Alon Shvut in July 2011 after working as a Yoetzet Halacha for several synagogues in New Jersey and teaching in Ma'ayanot Yeshiva High School.