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Information spreads like wildfire. “Gilad Shalit is home,” my friend e-mailed me happily as soon as he heard the news. He isn’t Jewish or a even a Zionist, but the kidnapping of someone our age moved him enough to track the case.
“I know this is something that’s weighed on you. It must be good to have it off,” he wrote. And he was right. A load had been lifted off my shoulders.
“Gilad Shalit is home,” my friends and I squealed as we hugged each other, tears streaming down our faces. We couldn’t believe it was happening; we felt like we were in a wonderful dream. Yet as we watched on the Internet as events unfolded, we realized the reality was that our dreams had come true.
After 1,940 days, Gilad Shalit is home and I am so grateful. Even though he shows signs of malnutrition and lack of sunlight, even if he looks gaunt and painfully pale, he is home to the family that loves him, that waited for him, that never gave up on him. It is a moment I will never forget.
Somewhere in Gaza, a young lady my age was celebrating the release of Ahlam Tamimi. She likely blogged about it, hugging friends and talking about how this was a moment she would never forget, how she had pined for her hero’s freedom. Her heart was also full of joy and she felt like this was a victory for everything she lives for.
I remember how on the anniversary of Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping I would sit on my porch and think of all the luxuries I took for granted – freedom, family, friends – and my heart would break for him.
On the day he was finally freed I knew I would wake up the next morning in my own bed and see my family and talk to my friends and travel as I wish. But the knowledge was sweetened by the awareness that Gilad finally would be sharing those same privileges.
I had every confidence the aforementioned young lady was thinking the same about her hero.
Ahlam Tamimi and Gilad Shalit have two things in common. Both were released on the same day. Both their lives changed when they were twenty years old. The difference is, Gilad Shalit was kidnapped while trying to protect his fellow Israelis. Ahlam Tamimi was arrested for collaborating in the murder of fifteen people – eight of them children, including two under the age of six.
Gilad went home to be with his family, to recover from his terrible ordeal. He showed no bitterness for his pain, saying, “I hope this deal will move the peace process forward.” He even wished the released murderers well, “as long as they do not go back to fighting Israel.”
Ahlam, meanwhile, has sworn she will attempt another terrorist attack.
“I’m not sorry for what I did,” she said in an interview in 2006. “I will get out of prison, and I refuse to recognize Israel’s existence. Discussions will only take place after Israel recognizes that this is Islamic land.”
Her prediction, chillingly, came true, and who knows what the future holds?
Despite this, I’m happy. I know I should worry about future terrorist attacks by the criminals who were freed. I know I should worry about future kidnappings. We all should. That will come once the euphoria over Gilad abates and Israel returns to the endless war against terror.
The Popular Resistance Committee of Hamas has already vowed “to capture another soldier and cleanse all the Israeli prisons of our prisoners.”
One of the released prisoners has already said, “We shall spare no efforts to liberate the rest of our brothers and sisters. We urge the Al Kassam Brigades of the Hamas military wing to kidnap more soldiers to exchange them for the freedom of our loved ones who are still behind bars.”
I fear greatly for the future, especially considering how many friends I have in Israel. Are we going from one nightmare to another?
Yet, as Shlomo HaMelech said, there is a time to laugh and a time to cry. This is a time to laugh.
This is also a time to be proud. Proud of a country that released evil murderers because it values the life of an innocent so much more. A country that produces a soldier who, despite being held in unspeakable captivity for five years, has the courage to hope for peace and the strength of character to resist the urge for revenge. A country that loves its children. A country that will live because morality and goodness can never be defeated.
Welcome home, Gilad. You were sorely missed.
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The bad news is that ISIS and Al Qaeda are on the Syrian Golan. The good news is that every terrorist in Syria is killing each other.
The congregants, Ethiopians spanning generations, were beaming with joy and pride.
The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security.
In 19th century entire ancient Jewish communities fled Palestine to escape brutal Muslim authorities
Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.
But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.
If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.
Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.
One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.
While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.
We risk our lives to help those who do what they can to kill to our people .
Twain grasped amazingly well the pulse of the Jewish people.
At the American Jewish Historical Society, there was an excellent program about Jewish women in the Civil War. The audience learned about such colorful women as Phoebe Yates Pember who served as a nurse, with 15,000 patients coming under her direct care during the war and Clara Solomon, a teenager who chronicled the Civil War.
The importance of death customs has been ingrained in me since birth. When I served as a shomeret for my grandmother, I was instructed not to eat, drink or perform a mitzvah in the same room. In the shock of death, it seemed rather inane to be told it would be considered mocking the dead. My grandmother was gone; she couldn’t do those things because she didn’t exist anymore, a fact that still makes me tear up.
At the end of 2012, I was in Israel and looking out at the Jerusalem night sky. I was filled to the brim with inspiration and decided to challenge myself to become a more educated young woman. Simply put, I was going to read as many books in a year as possible. I’m not sure if that would actually have made a difference in my level of education but it seemed like a fun goal at the time.
Many Jewish people, including myself, avoid Holocaust movies because it is far too painful to watch the dehumanization of those we love. Still, facing what is painful is an important part of life. “Lion of Judah” is not an easy film to watch, but for the next generation it will be a valuable resource for educating children in a world without survivors. More importantly, it is centered on the incredible, Leo Zisman, the Lion of Judah.
Whenever I got praised for an achievement, I feel like I should say that half the praise goes to my parents. Although they can get on my nerves, I am really blessed with a mother and father who have molded and shaped me (by any means necessary) to become a successful human being.
Growing up, I remember my father’s Rosh Hashana ritual. He read the story of Rabi Amnon of Mainz, who had his tongue, hands and legs cut off for refusing to convert to Christianity – for choosing to remain a Jews. I would run away from the table sobbing in terror. Even at the tender age of six, I knew that being Jewish made oneself a member of an endangered species.
Purim is my favorite holiday, and I love to share the joy. I have spent previous years wandering around my neighborhood in costume. This year, I fully intend to celebrate with full cheer, and I want everyone to know why I plan to spend the day in costume, singing Shoshanat Yaakov at the top of my lungs.
We are forgetting the lessons of the churban Beit HaMikdash, how we were not finished off by Rome, but destroyed ourselves through mindless hatred and zealotry. We bled each other dry through violence and bigotry until we were weak enough for Rome to come in and step all over our broken bodies. Rome did not defeat us – we defeated ourselves.
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