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Chavi Feldman

Upon These Stones

I’m blessed to have a small yet amazing circle of good friends. Friends who build me up, who listen and share, friends who try to fill this world with good energy and love.

I have a new friend – she is one I see every week because I am her piano teacher. What began as a student/teacher relationship blossomed into a “good coffee and deep conversation” session before the piano lesson. She claims that I drop “truth bombs” on her, but I think she drops them on me as well.

Today, before the lesson, we were talking about the current situation in the world vis-a-vis Israel and Canada’s decision to stop arming Israel, and the never ending rise of antisemitism worldwide. Depressing for sure. But she said something interesting and thought provoking. She said she would never ever want to leave Israel, and that despite the feeling that the world is ganging up against us, she feels like hunkering down. She said, she feels that we’re the eye of the hurricane, the center of the storm, and everyone knows that right there, in the center of the eye, it is the calmest and the quietest.

That sat with me all day. I kept turning back to that thought, and how profound it is when you really think about it.

Everyone on the outside would look at us, Israelis living in Israel, and say that with the war on many fronts, it is unsafe; we are unsafe. And that it is certainly not quiet or calm within our borders.

But this storm is whipping its crazy winds and dangerous energy and it’s speeding up and gathering up everything in its path and the funnel is just growing and widening. And spreading. What is it gathering? Misinformation. Untruths. Denial. Confusion. Hatred. Racism. It’s spreading all of that and more to countries that once were unequivocal allies, countries that have never been our allies and every other country in between. But still, right here, Israel – in the very eye of the storm – it is the place to be and the more I think about it, the more I believe that she’s right.

Why?

Because we are not confused or misinformed. We know the truth: we believe our women, we believe in love and not hate. We love our country and our peoplehood and our warriors and our countrymen and we believe in our right to exist. And we ALL want our hostages back. We don’t want war, we don’t want our boys in battle: we want peace and we just want to live. That’s it. We are all on the same page here and we are definitely not confused about that.

(And if you need further proof, we ranked fifth in the 2024 World Happiness Report.)

As strange as this may sound, there’s safety in that, in being surrounded by like-minded people, in a place that will fight for my right to live in peace. And within that space, there is a sort of calm.

On the way home from grocery shopping I was listening to my music on Spotify and a song came on called “Upon these Stones” by Tom Francis. I’ve heard this song many many times before, but suddenly a phrase jumped out and made me rewind. I thought I heard the words Ben Gurion. I thought, I’m just hearing things, but no. I was right. I replayed the song again listening carefully to the lyrics. Weird that it was just now that I was actually truly hearing them…

And they resonated with me, bringing this idea of belonging in the eye of the storm, belonging in Israel.

And our responsibility to Israel.

The song tells the story of someone who is traveling on the Mediterranean coast and meets a woman who has sold everything she had just to come to this place: Israel. He is overwhelmed by that thought, by the history and significance of this country and the effect it had on this woman.

Anyone who has left their lives behind and made a choice to build a life here understands that woman. We ARE that woman.

He sings: “who am I?” a refrain that he says over and over again. He questions his identity as to how it pertains to the stones he stands on, this evocative land that has had such a strong influence on him. And the phrase “there’s a thousand hearts laid low” is a powerful image of all the people who have come before, whose stories and struggles and sweat and blood have made this country what it is today.

Overall, this song is about the importance of history and place and identity, and the responsibility that comes with being part of that history. It makes us question not just who we are at our core, but who we are in this place we call home – that our very identity is tied to this land.

So I call to all those out there in the world who are contemplating Aliyah: come join us in the eye of the storm. Belong to this country and to a nation that has been fighting for its existence since the beginning of time. We are looking for more warriors.

Come. Find your courage.

We are waiting for you.

About the Author
Chavi Feldman has a degree in graphic design and advertising and works primarily as a music teacher. She has lived in Israel for more than two decades.
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