The Israel/America Divide

I have a daughter in the US about to give birth at any moment to her very first baby, our family’s very first grandchild.

I have a son in the 101 division of the Israeli paratroopers in southern Israel in a “state of preparedness.”

Not exactly a choice between Coke and Pepsi.

I booked a flight to the US to leave Israel 2 days from now so that I could be with my daughter as she leaps into motherhood. Leaving Israel these past several years with two boys in the army was always a difficult thing for me. However, when you have family, parents, children − on the other side of the world these are the decisions one must make. Nevertheless, flying out of Israel while missiles are raining down on half of our land, with a son in the army who may be ordered into battle, makes these travels more agonizing.

I want to rejoice with my daughter and son-in-law and celebrate the new life that, please God will come in good time, and yet, as a mother of a soldier in the midst of what can only be termed as warfare…well…you get the picture.

So what’s a mom to do?

I suddenly see the virtue of human cloning.

There is also a level of disconnect with Israel on the part of family members who still live in the US. They hear the news, they see the news, but it doesn’t quite resonate. I’m told comments such as “You can’t do anything for your son, anyway,” or “You being in Israel aren’t going to stop the missiles from dropping,” and even, “Now would be the best time to get out of the country.” How does one even answer that? Even if I did not have a son in the army, I would still feel as if I’d be abandoning my fellow soldiers in the battlefield. No doubt, there would be a lot of eye-rolling to that and I’d be accused of being over-dramatic. But that is how I feel. And it would be a safe bet to say that most Israelis feel as I do.

Will there be an actual ceasefire? Maybe − maybe not. While writing this missive, I heard that a missile landed just 40 miles short of Tel Aviv, Gaza terrorists attacked the Eshkol region in the western Negev just hours after a supposed ceasefire went into effect, the Egyptian parliament is demanding the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador and Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai announced that the IDF is ready for a major ground incursion into Gaza.

I dream about holding my first grandchild, clasping the tiny fingers, cuddling, watching every movement and just plain staring in awe at the new wonder, and taking every chance to surreptitiously sing softly sweet Zionist messages into his/her ear. (You never know what triggers the aliya urge!) And, certainly, my daughter about to give birth for the first time has every right to expect her mom to be on hand. Yet, at the same time, departing from Israel with a son whose unit is in a state of preparedness, plus having another younger daughter alone in a country that always seems to be on the precipice of war is enough to turn anyone’s stomach into horrendous flip-flops.

I can only hope that each of my children understands that my heart is not my own, nor does any one child have a monopoly on it. My heart belongs to each of them, and the decisions I make, may not always be the right ones, but they are made for them.

So I’ve decided to spend 9 days in the US, certainly less time than I would have liked, to be a doting grandmother, and then return home to Israel − to my other children, and pray with my fellow Jews here for the wellbeing of our soldiers, of our people, and of our country.

About the Author
Author of THE GILBOA IRIS (Gefen Publishing House) and SETTLING FOR MORE: FROM JERSEY TO JUDEA (Urim Publications).