Romi Sussman

To Be Israeli Is

Picture by Romi Sussman
Picture by Romi Sussman

To be Israeli is

To have your 17-year-old ask you if he can please miss school today

To attend the funeral of a 20-year-old soldier he’s never met.

To be Israeli is

To think that’s perfectly normal and to tell him that he absolutely can

Take your car to drive to the national military cemetery with friends

To be part of the thousands who will converge

To bury a young woman they’ve never met.

To be Israeli is

To know that he’s already been to many, many funerals in his 17 years

Mostly for people he’s never met, never seen, never heard of

Some of whom he did know, did love, did laugh with

Before they gave their life for our country.

To be Israeli is

To have absolutely no way to shield your children from this reality

To know that your 12-year-old is currently having a drill at school

For what to do if terrorists burst through their doors ready to kill them

A drill that he’s already had in the comfort of his own home

In what should be his safe space, his respite.

To be Israeli is

To ask your 15-year-old to accompany you to the Jerusalem light display

For the 240 captives currently held in Gaza

And to have him casually say that he’s already been with his friends

Because that’s what 15-year-olds do in their spare time

Think about captive babies, and newly-orphaned children,

And recently-raped teenage girls, and moms,

And older men, and grandmothers.

To be Israeli is

To know that two of your sons will probably not be at

Their brother’s bar mitzvah next week

The bar mitzvah he’s been preparing for over the last year

The last bar mitzvah in the family.

But there are some things more important than your family simcha

And to be Israeli is

To actually understand that

At the age of 12.

About the Author
Romi Sussman is a teacher and writer. When she's not at her computer, she's juggling raising six boys ages 13-23 and conquering daily life as an Olah. She enjoys blogging here and on her personal blog at
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