To the five girls I’ve been carrying in my heart for the past 234 days

Agam Berger, Daniella Gilboa, Karina Ariev, Liri Albag, Naama Levy
Agam Berger, Daniella Gilboa, Karina Ariev, Liri Albag, Naama Levy

To the five girls I’ve been carrying in my heart for the past 234 days:

Agam, Daniella, Karina, Liri, and Naama.

I was at the Kotel last week. The sun had just set, and the sky was an unbelievable shade of royal blue. I let the night settle on my shoulders like a velvet blazer, a satin robe. Neither day nor dark. A pause, a breath. In the between. Twilight.

I stood with my back towards the crowd, eyes up at the stars, hands pressed against the smooth stone. I held onto the crevices and let myself embrace G-d’s saturated presence.  

A woman clutching her siddur against her chest paced 20 feet behind me, wailing:

-“להתפלל על החטופים שלנו, לבנות שלנו”

“Pray for our hostages, for our girls.”

The temperature dropped with the weight of her words. I wonder if you heard her. 

I wonder if you hear Rachel Goldberg-Polin counting the days. She tapes. And retapes. And retapes. “All I want to do, is lay on the floor and cry. But that won’t bring him home. That won’t bring any of them home.” And so she shows up, every single time. A woman with the courage to stick her broken, bleeding heart on her sleeve. 

Puncturing our inflated, ignorant lives, she coughs the painful shards out of the back of her throat, down the neck of a microphone, and into the ears of anyone who is human enough to listen. Glass shatters the space. Her voice shakes and then steadies with the sharp introduction we have become too familiar with:

“I am Rachel, the mother of Hersh Goldberg-Polin.”

She is your mother, too.

I think back to another mother bearing the same name, who lived 35 centuries ago. “Rachel is weeping for her children and refuses to be comforted, because they are away.” (Yirmiyahu 31:14-16) I wonder if you hear her cries as well. I bet they’re shaking the heavens.

The Jewish mother knows no comfort when her child is away.

I wonder if you heard the angry, desperate gasps from those who watched mere minutes of the nightmare you’ve been living for the past eight months. I wonder if you heard the internal battle your parents fought when they decided to release your bloody faces for the world to see. 

And do you hear the shouts of Shema? Of Ani Ma’amin? Of Am Yisrael Chai? Did you hear us sing Vehi She’amdah on Pesach? Layehudim Hayta Orah on Purim? Maoz Tzur on Chanukah? These ancient tunes penetrated the thickest walls, warmed the coldest barracks, illuminated the darkest forests. I have no doubt they flood the longest tunnels as well.

And now, we sing. Because our great-grandparents sang. Because their great-grandparents sang.

As Hersh’s mother profoundly states, “Hope is mandatory.” 

I hope you hear the music. I hope it echoes through the depths of your resilient souls, and bounces around down there until you are brought back home. I hope you are listening.

בנות שלנו- our dear girls. Stay strong. The sun will come up.

Until then, I am holding my breath. We all are.

About the Author
Dvorah Leah Kvasnik grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She spent her gap year in Tomer Devorah Seminary, and now she's two months from completing her volunteer national service at World Bnei Akiva in Jerusalem. She loves busy Friday mornings in the shuk, journaling at the Kottel, and to watch sunset at the beach.
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