Michelle Rojas-Tal

The worst part of today

This morning, I realized the absolute worst part of going about life on days like these…

Questioning whether or not to go to the market or to spend time at the mall, those are the simple dilemmas, believe it or not. The most tragic element during such a difficult period, are the looks. The way you look at people. The way they look at you…Wanting to say out loud to my child’s caretaker, I trust you. The extra smile you give to the grocery man to let him know, it’s not him you blame. It’s not him you fear or have anger towards.

It’s the extra look you give over your shoulder, checking who is walking behind you. You convince yourself it’s much like taking the train by yourself late at night, back in NY. You need to be more aware of your surroundings. There are bad people with cruel intentions everywhere. (Or at least that is what I tell my Mom during our daily calls.)

I tried my best this morning to go about life. And to say good morning, with just a bit of extra effort. But the looks were there. On all ends. And that makes the wound that has fallen upon us, sting even more.

News in the background is updating on the latest attacks from today. Emotions, understandably, so are so volatile. People are living in fear. And they are angry. All that, while we are still so sad. We are sad because we are still in mourning for the innocent, beautiful souls who have lost their lives. We fear the reality we are living in right now. And we are angry for reality forcing us to live this way.

The looks are everywhere. The city that I love is on edge. Our schools were on strike today because students are not secured after a certain hour, and parents are worried sick over it.

I find myself in awe at the lack of understanding of so many. I want to scream. And shout. I want them to ask themselves what they would do in such a situation.

A friend once asked me, if I thought that there would ever come a point where terror would “win”. Terror will win when we stop living. When we stop smiling at each other. When we lose all trust, hope and optimism. I have not lost that. Israel has not lost that.

When I went to pick up my daughter this afternoon, after yet another difficult day, I said goodbye to her daycare teacher. As I asked her about the list of items my daughter needed to bring, since she was chosen as this week’s Shabbat “mother”, my daughter reached her arms up towards her, to kiss her goodbye. I watched her tug on her hijab just a little bit and watched both of their eyes light up with pure joy and love. That is the look that I will remember from today. And hold on to. It is what helps us to stay here. And remain strong. There are those aspiring to commit an evil words cannot describe. But there are so many more who are aspiring to simply live. And no one will take that from us.

About the Author
Michelle Rojas-Tal is a global speaker, trailblazer and advocate on Zionism, Jewish identity, and Israel engagement. Amongst her current projects, Michelle serves as the Zionist Scholar-in-Residence at Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America.