Last night I killed three birds with one stone. Of course, I neither killed birds nor used a stone, but that’s what people say: At the end of my day, I realized that one trip to Yerushalayim would net three desired results so I got dressed for a wedding at which I saw friends I haven’t seen since “The Day Before” (i.e. October 6th) and seeing them meant a lot, I picked up a duffel bag of medical supplies that had arrived from Florida and made its way to Talpiot, and then drove said duffel bag to a hotel in the center of town where an American physician was sleeping – I say sleeping and not staying because his days have been more than full delivering supplies, support, and treatment in Israel’s Southern region. Then I drove home with just a little bit of extra angst because I don’t exactly know how war works but I figure the enemy (or some of it/them) is close enough and if there are more soldiers around, there’s got to be a reason.
I’d like to rewind a bit to fill in some of the blanks. One of the dangers of this war, it seems, is the relative quiet where we live. Nature hates a vacuum only slightly less than our cognitive experience does and it is too easy to fill in the silence with a sense of normal. It seems to me that since this series has been about chronicling the war, I’ll pitch in with some recent happenings and minimal commentary and hopefully that will suffice.
It is Tuesday, October 17th. Ten days since that terrible morning. I pick up my daughter as we are heading to a local park to barbecue for soldiers (I wrote about that here) and as she gets into the car, she says “Abba, wanna hear about today’s phone call?” I said OK but wasn’t sure what to expect.
“Abba, my last call of the day was just now. A woman answered and I introduced myself and told her that we can assist in finding a comfortable safe apartment for her and her family (who live in the South). ”
“Toda Neshama…….Thank you….but I can’t talk right now as we are about to leave to my son’s funeral. We received word that they identified his body this morning…..”
**LONG PAUSE** and then the woman said….
“Ken, ahh? (I know, right?)”
So my young fresh-out-of-high-school daughter said “I hope that finally knowing offers you some sort of comfort” and then offered to send meals or anything else and they said their goodbyes. And that was the phone call of the day.
When an entire agricultural region has become a closed military zone, the crops can’t be picked, packed, or sold. Which means that insult gets added to injury (and death and trauma and terror) as the farmers lose very important income: In addition to the immediate requests for supplies, medical personnel, and of course, reservists, there are calls for volunteers to “man the fields” to save the harvests. Entire high schools have stepped in in this crucial element of the war effort.
What’s it like to move an entire community of 60+ families in 36-72 hours? Kfar Etzion is about half a mile down the road from where I live and they know. Besides the impressive undertaking of logistics necessary for phase 1 (housing, basic needs [toiletries, diapers, bedding], and meals), now they are busy trying to get Regular Life ™ off and running which means cleaning and preparing a community center for a children’s Gan, working with local schools to integrate more than 100 children into (already) full classrooms, finding volunteer teachers and ganenot and setting up meaningful activities (learning, volunteering, sports, etc) for parents who aren’t working. Of course, this is just a small group of 60 families. An additional 100 individuals have moved into our community so that makes a total of 350 people…….out of the estimated 200,000(!!!) who have been displaced.
Much as I have been trying to avoid it, I am still finding myself talking about ballistics reports for bulletproof ceramic plates that we are trying to get to soldiers in the field or getting whatsapps from strangers who are wondering if I know anyone who knows anyone who might be able to bring or receive or fund or distribute X, Y, or Z. And as more and more (and more and more) shipments come in with loving letters of support from abroad, I can’t help but appreciate the focus of so many and how it has shifted so intensely in this direction.
Our bodies and our minds are equipped with impressive defense mechanisms. Our self-preservation instincts will do their best to make sure we don’t bleed out; physically or otherwise. I find myself in a sort of twilight zone where I am aware of my surroundings and yet, I feel that I am experiencing them from a safe (enough) distance. And then a new piece of news comes in about the atrocities of October 7th or a new threat or, sadly, a new death notice, and I am awakened to the truth. This really happened. This is really Happening. I am in it and we are in it and we are trying to do what we can.
And we are not alone.
Thanks for hearing me out…..