Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld has said that “Police units are at the scenes of a wave of terrorist attacks almost instantly, and are making sure that the terrorists are apprehended, neutralized, or killed immediately.” I tell my children. But it doesn’t quell their fear.
They’ve heard about the stabbings. Nehemia Lavi was stabbed when he rushed to help Aharon Bennett. They both died. A few days later, an eighteen-year-old girl stabbed a man at Damascus Gate and another terrorist stabbed a 15-year-old Israeli boy near a Jerusalem Light Rail stop. Later in the week, a 25-year-old yeshiva student was stabbed at another station. In Tel Aviv, on that same morning, five people were injured when a Palestinian attacked them with a screw driver. Then two sixty-year-old men were stabbed at Damascus Gate.
And those are just some of the recent attacks. In the Shomron, in Haifa, in Kiryat Gat, in Yafo, terror colors our lives in horrible hues of blood and black. But we carry on, living normal lives.
My son wants to go biking in Jerusalem with a friend. “Don’t let Motti take his bike to Jerusalem,” Chani, my nine year old, begs me. I hug her. How can I explain to her that it’s hard to keep a seventeen year old at home when this is one of his few days off yeshiva before the new term? I hug Chani tighter. Besides, I kept Motti home all last summer during Operation Protective Edge.
My young married daughter travels to Tel Aviv, to the Reading Boardwalk, with her husband and infant son. “Tel Aviv was full of police and border guards the day Yona and I went to Reading Boardwalk,” Elisheva tells me after we light candles on Friday evening.
“The terror attack.” She pauses and adds, “Right after the attack, when we saw the security forces arriving, Yona told me being killed for being a Jew is a tremendous Kiddush Hashem. Then he told me that if we were attacked, we should run in opposite directions and I should try to hide the baby. How do you find a hiding place for a baby when you’re running away?”
I look away. I don’t know. But I do know that young couples on an outing should be talking about different things.
I look in on my rambunctious twelve year old after he goes to bed. This is the boy who beat up a bully twice his size when the bully picked on a little kid with an eye patch. He’s still awake. “I keep thinking of the attacks,” he says.
I stroke his cheek. “Instead, say ‘thank you’ to Hashem for all the good things you have” – I swallow – “like a mommy and a daddy.” The four Henkin children no longer have a mommy and a daddy.
“If they’re using knives, then any Arab can grab a knife and stab anyone,” he says.
“They don’t have sharp knives,” I lie.
“Really?” His eyes are big. He wants so much to believe me.
Friday morning, between frying the onions for the cholent and hunting for my peeler in the mess of potato peels on the counter, I hear my eighteen-year-old daughter Gila talking to her friend Riki. Riki is alone in the house and she’s afraid. Maybe one of the many Arab construction workers in the neighborhood will break in.
“Ask Riki what makes her so sure she’s worthy to be the next Kiddush Hashem,” I tell Gila.
Riki doesn’t feel safer.
“Listen to me,” Gila tells Riki. “I told my friend that everyone here in Israel needs a psychologist. We’re all traumatized. You know what she answered? She told me we don’t need psychologists. We need emunah – faith. Everything that happens to us comes from a Father who loves us.”
Riki feels safer. So do I. And it isn’t only because of the thousand extra officers now deployed throughout Jerusalem.