web analytics
November 21, 2014 / 28 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

From Sderot To Newtown To Shushan: Placing Tragedy In Perspective

Dreyfus-022213

I have two homes.

My first home is Connecticut, a place of rustling oaks and sprawling backyards. My second home is Israel.

I travel to Israel quite often, my parents and little sister having recently made aliyah. When curious Israelis used to ask where I was from, the response, “Connecticut,” prompted befuddled stares. “Mah? Canada?”

On my most recent visit, the word “Connecticut” elicited a wildly different response. “Connecticut? Do you live near Newtown?”

Hearing those who live a stone’s throw from the Syrian border murmur about the danger of my inconspicuous home state is incredibly unnerving. Before the inexplicable tragedy of the Newtown shooting, I could think of no place more unobtrusive or safer than the suburban haven I knew from my childhood memories.

Newtown was the place we passed on the way to horseback riding lessons. It was neat houses with carefully manicured lawns, two cars parked in the driveway or garage – houses just far enough apart to prevent a stray baseball from breaking a neighbor’s window. It was a place of quiet rocking chairs on white porches, and foliage that changed to magnificent shades of orange and red when summer turned to fall. With the falling leaves, the children of this quiet town were ushered back each year into quiet schools.

When death did come to visit, it did so in a gentle, respectful manner – tapping politely on the shoulder and edging in sidewise, apologizing all the while. Death did not intrude.

I could imagine no place more different from this quiet town than the Israel we read about this past December during the conflict with Gaza. A place where blaring sirens became the norm, alerting citizens that they had mere seconds to reach a bomb shelter. A place where eighteen year olds walk the streets with guns slung as nonchalantly over their shoulders as backpacks. A place where bus drivers eye packages and passengers with wary stares.

But Connecticut? When does Connecticut make headlines?

On that clear-skied Friday morning that sent the world reeling, I was sitting in my dorm room, typing up some last-minute papers. My roommate called to me. CNN was open on her browser, cluttered with pictures of ambulances, security personnel, and bystanders transfixed in horror. Another attack in Israel, I immediately assumed.

But the headline didn’t read Sderot or Tel Aviv. The headline read Connecticut. My expectations floundered, and went black.

As much as it pained me to hear about the children of Sderot running into bomb shelters when the sirens rang, it is what we, the world, had come to expect. The routine of the matter had dulled our senses to the tragedy. Israel, surrounded by unstable, violent regimes, was accustomed to violence. Prepared for violence. Capable of handling violence.

But this quiet town, tucked away between rustling oaks? How to respond when Israeli citizens ask me it is safe to live in Connecticut?

As someone with a deep connection to both the Jewish state and the Nutmeg state, I am in a unique position. The stark irony of the matter settled heavily on my shoulders. The two worlds in which I stand were reversed. What, I asked myself, can I take away from the unexpected role reversal of my two homes?

Purim is fast approaching. One of the holiday’s underlying themes is the concept of v’nahafoch hu – a complete and unexpected reversal of affairs. Everything and anything – from expectations to circumstances to guarantees – can change utterly, in an instant.

The Jews were invitees to a party in the king’s court – switch. The Jews were sealed for complete annihilation – switch. The man who had single-handedly commandeered their tragic sentence was hanged, all his progeny alongside. And the Jews rejoiced: “And in every province and every city…there was joy and gladness for the Jews, a banquet and a festive day” (Esther 8:17).

But why rejoice? We were not restored to our land. One enemy defeated, but could history have foretold the countless tragedies that were yet to befall the Jewish people? A Haman in every generation, threats of annihilation never growing dim.

Would the Jews of Shushan have rejoiced if they knew what was to come?

“God is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” wrote King David (Psalms 27:1). When there seems no safe spot left in the world, when even a quaint New England town is under fire, we turn and seek refuge Above. The real celebration of v’nahafoch hu reaffirms our trust in the only Source of true stability and safety.

We rejoice in the recognition that God is in control, no matter what and no matter where. It is this realization that is the source of uncontainable, unshakable joy.

Sometimes it takes the ground underneath our feet shifting to realize we never were standing on solid ground after all. Sometimes it takes the complete reversal of expectations to realize expectations never were meant to be depended upon.

“I’m from Connecticut,” I tell curious Israeli inquirers. Near Newtown? Yes. Near Newtown. Are you scared to go back? No. I’m not scared.

“Are you scared to live here?” I ask in return. Here, surrounded by enemies? Here, surrounded by constant contention and controversy? No. We’re not scared.

God is watching both my homes.

About the Author: Hannah Dreyfus is a junior at Stern College for Women majoring in journalism. She currently works as managing editor of the YU Observer and an editorial intern for The Jewish Week. Her work has appeared on Aish.com, The Times of Israel website, and in The Jewish Press. She hopes to pursue a joint degree in journalism and law.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “From Sderot To Newtown To Shushan: Placing Tragedy In Perspective”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Masked Arabs clash with Israeli security forces  in anti-Israel riot outside the Ofer prison between Jerusalem and  Ramallah.
Israel Law Center Wins Landmark Decision Against PA in NY Court
Latest Indepth Stories
Dalia Lemkos, HY"D Is this the image you think of when you hear the word "settler?"

The “Media” didn’t want us to know what a kind, giving, loving young woman Dalia was.

A “Palestine” could become another Lebanon, with many different factions battling for control.

Temple_Mount_aerial_from_south_tb_q010703bsr-300x225

Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165

voting

Having a strong community presence at the polls shows our elected officials we care about the issues

Israel’s Temple Mount policy prefers to blames the Jews-not the attackers-for the crisis.

When Islam conquered the Holy Land, it made its capital in Ramle of all places, not in Jerusalem.

I joined the large crowd but this time it was more personal; my cousin Aryeh was one of the victims.

Terrorists aren’t driven by social, economic, or other grievances, rather by a fanatical worldview.

The phrase that the “Arabs are resorting to violence” is disgraceful and blames the victim.

Tuesday, Yom Shlishi, a doubly good day in the Torah, Esav’s hands tried to silence Yaakov’s voice.

Because of the disparate nature of the perpetrators, who are also relatively young, and given the lack of more traditional targets and the reverence Palestinians have for their homes, one now hears talk of Israel returning to a policy of destroying the houses of terrorists’ families.

In any event, the Constitution gives Congress what is popularly described as the “power of the purse” – that is, the power to raise revenues through taxation and to decide how the money should be sent.

It is difficult to write about such a holy person, for I fear I will not accurately portray his greatness…

There was much to learn from Judge Kramer and the examples he set remains a source of inspiration and a resource from which to learn. He was and remains a great role model.

More Articles from Hannah Dreyfus
Dreyfus-022213

I have two homes.

My first home is Connecticut, a place of rustling oaks and sprawling backyards. My second home is Israel.

My relationship with social media is and remains an ambivalent one. Unlike many of my peers, I did not initially embrace social media, from its beginning stages with AOL instant messenger and proceeding quickly on to MySpace and Facebook.

While fear used to motivate, even inspire, mine is a generation that views threats as challenges and raises a skeptical brow at austere ultimatums. Reverence often seems a throwback to old times, and absolute authority, whether in classroom or in the synagogue, is a concept increasingly more difficult to swallow. As a counselor at an Orthodox Jewish sleep-away camp this past summer, I witnessed this phenomenon first hand. I worked with forty teenage girls, ages 15 and 16, and quickly discovered the most dependable way to get nothing done: threats.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/from-sderot-to-newtown-to-shushan-placing-tragedy-in-perspective/2013/02/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: