Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

What is there to “get up” for?

Today, today is the first time in my life that I can remember that I didn’t want to get out of bed. Not when my father died when I was 14, not when my beloved son died and I stood by his bed and could do nothing to prevent it. Not when buses in Netanya blew up and I was a bystander, not when we had almost no food, no money and people came to the hospital looking for my sick husband, who could not pay his debts…I have always been able to get up and face the day. I have always remembered my father’s doodling on any piece of paper that was around, “Nil desperandum”. He was not a Latin scholar, but  optimistic until the day he died.

However, today, when I intended to write a blog to share a week of events that were both intellectually and spiritually stimulating, emotionally heartwarming and meaningful to me as a Jew, an Israeli, and a great grandmother, I am almost dysfunctional.

How can I put love into the food that I am preparing for the feast tonight? Simchat Torah — the very words make me tremble. How can I go tomorrow to Beit Daniel and dance with the Torah held close to my  breaking heart?

We who have so much glory in our religion and history, we who have survived in far away and brutal circumstances, in lands where we were not wanted and still maintained dignity. We who were motivated to become citizens, who contributed immensely to every society in which we found ourselves, can hardly look each other in the face.

How can we celebrate?

When others are in the deepest morning for innocent souls who have in the last weeks been brutally murdered. Young people, who feel they have nothing to live for, are for the most part the murderers. Kids on both sides of the conflict.

What has brought them to this if not man’s inhumanity to man in words, deeds,by omission and commission, where will it end?

WE the “start up” nation, we the Nobel prize laureates we descendants of the wise sages, most of whom did not get to live in the”promised land”.

We who fought and died so that Jews would never again have to discriminated against and feel unsure of their future and their children’s future.

Well, where are we now?

Last night, I joined a handful of people standing a mere”stones throw” away from our beautiful and regal National Theatre Habima. In the so called cultural heart of our country. At the same time, unbeknownst to us, Orthodox Jews were brutally being stabbed to death in the alleyways of  the ancient and revered Old City, home to Jews, Muslims, and Christians. I call it the “heart of the world”; if not here,where?

Our banners read. “No to violence, stabbings, brutality”! “There must be another way,” we called out to passers-by.

It was only someone I can call “a right-winger”  who came to engage with us. Came to stimulate thought and arouse our anger. Activate our passion.

Hundreds of people went in and out of the square most on their way to an evening of pure enjoyment. After all isn’t this a holiday of joy and self-gratification. We have fasted and prayed, paid our taxes and fed our families. Why not enjoy life?

Hardly a soul took a minute or two to say….we agree with you. Hardly a soul let the thought that maybe something in our land is radically wrong,enter their heads. Maybe some were shaking the sand out?

I, who from the age of 13 in the midst of World War II when I met German and Austrian refugees who had escaped to Britain, made the decision that when I could, I would go to the”land” to Eretz Israel. I arrived here at the age of 18 in the first year of the State of Israel.

I feel that maybe my generation failed. I convince others, to allay my sense of guilt, that in the early days life was about survival.

Tsena (food rationing) and Mitun (economic recession) were the reality, but with all the economic and physical hardships. We had blind hope that our leaders would do what was best for all those who inhabited the land.

I never imagined that we could and would be the cause of so much suffering to another people, not withstanding the blight we have inflicted on so many of our own. I never imagined that one day I would feel so useless and helpless in the face of the drama being played out all around me, that I would not want to get up!

Hag Sameach……

About the Author
Zelda Harris first came to Israel 1949, aged 18. After living through the hardships of the nascent state, she returned to England in 1966. She was a founding member of the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry. In 1978, she returned with her family to Israel and has been active in various spheres of Israeli Society since. Together with the late Chaim Herzog, she founded CCC for Electoral Reform, was the Director of BIPAC in Israel, and a co-founder of Metuna, the Organisation for Road Safety, which received the Speaker of Knesset Quality of Life Award for saving lives on the roads and prevention of serious injury. She is now a peace activist, blogger for Times of Israel and is writing her life story.