After two days of wet, wintry weather in late October, Friday morning dawns crisp and clear. My sister is visiting from Sydney, and she has taken my car to do a few messages. I need to do some shopping for Shabbat, but I am happy to walk in the glorious sunshine to Glen Eira Road with a cold bag slung over my shoulder. The weather is perfect, and my spirits would normally sore on a day like this, but they are clouded over by my consternation for Israel and its people. As I pound the pavement of my neighbourhood, over 220 innocent souls of all ages and backgrounds are trapped by terrorists in a sinister network of tunnels. As I prepare for a Shabbat lunch with family, families in Israel grieve for the senseless loss of their loved ones.
Shabbat the warm weather continues, and the family and a couple of friends are coming for lunch. Last time we had a big Shabbat lunch, two of my grandchildren, one from Sydney and one local, were celebrating their birthdays. A big pink six and silver seven balloons drifted and twisted on their strings anchored to colourful weights on the side table. It was 7 October, Shemini Atzeret day. Little did we know that as we sang Happy Birthday and shared an iced bundt, a bee cake and a chessboard cake, in the early morning in the south of Israel, marauding Hamas terrorists had crossed the border to massacre the settlements that lay before them. Then they rounded up their prey to take back with them as hostages. It was only when my son came over after shul in the evening that he reported the terrible news to us.
On Sunday I pick up my sister and our mother and we go for a walk along the beach. As we walk beside the calm waters of Port Phillip Bay, we are confronted by posters stuck on the rocks that line the shore. Each poster has the name, photo and details of one of the Israeli hostages. They are but a handful of the two hundred and twenty-plus, ordinary people caught up in harrowing circumstances. As their smiling photos glare in the sunshine, I hope that Sunday strollers are as deeply affected as I am by these images. The following Sunday at a neighbouring beach, the posters of faces have another outing. Many double prams displaying two posters each are pushed by supporters along the beach path. As their likeness is exposed to the warmth and the sea air, and to others walking along the path, the innocents they represent sit in subterranean darkness, the darkness of the unknown.
In Melbourne, as do millions throughout the world, we give, we pray, we follow the news forensically … and we wait. We wait for the hostages to be returned home to see their family and friends again, to see the light of day.