We are strong.

I am standing at Har Menuchot, a cemetery in Jerusalem.

For the past week more than a thousand rockets and missiles have left Gaza and miraculous landed in unpopulated fields or have caused minor injuries and few casualties.

To me, it doesn’t make sense. I can’t comprehend how Israel’s air raids have been so effective and humane, not killing Palestinian civilians. I boggles my mind that in defense, Israel used its newest technology the Iron Dome to send mini tracking rockets to blow up the Hamas rockets mid air. Although each use of the Iron Dome costs upwards of $50,000, it’s made all the difference protecting Israeli and Palestinian lives. In fact, the ratio of the 4 deaths over the past week speaks volumes about the miracle of this war.

The discussion of the war has flowed into all my conversations, all my classes, all my prayers to God, and all of my actions to help my fellow sisters and brothers here in Israel. My school cried and sang together, rocking back in forth murmuring psalms and words of strength.

The idea of Jewish strength is a bit misconceived. Because when I think of someone strong, the stereotype of a body builder clouds the true image of Jacob or King David. Rav Shvat points out to me that the ideal Jew is a healthy soul in a healthy body; a person who works hard keeping her feet on her land but her head toward the sky. It’s only when we are distanced from Israel that we lose sight of our goal to gain not only spiritual muscle, but physical muscle. In Mishmar about Chanukah, Rav Teller examines the strength of the Maccabees to see past the obstacles in order to overcome them. Sometimes I feel so blind. Sometimes I feel weakened by boundaries, that my goals outweigh my might, that my day is too short and that my to do list is too long.

Then I think. I think about where my feet are standing. I think about what other generation had this opportunity. I think about the women and men who paved the way by telling their fears to stand aside. I think about Danielle Van Dam, or Chelsea King, who never breathed as many breaths as me.

I look down and see the graves. Yosef Partuk. 18 years old and accomplished life as the ideal Jew. I look to the right and left and cry with my friends, with Israelies, Jews, and Japanese journalists.

This past week was a test, a wake up call, a nudge to push us closer to the ideal. To strength, together.

About the Author
Talya Herring, originally from California, made Aliyah to a Moshav in the Negev for a year of her National Service at Aleh Negev, a rehabilitative village for people with severe disabilities and then worked as a tour guide for her second year of National Service. Now as a law student, she writes her blog to connect her evolving thoughts with friends and family, inspire ideas of self-achievement, and celebrate pride in values.