Last Wednesday I was touring the southern towns and villages near the Gaza Strip, courtesy of the Government Press Office of the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs. Our last stop was in Nir Oz, which is so close to the Gaza border, it usually isn’t hit by rockets, which fly further into Israel, but instead gets upwards of 50-60 mortar shells each month.
We walked through the lovely, grassy lawns and well maintained paths, until we reached the kindergarten, which was poked with ricochets from a mortar shell that exploded only 10 yards from it.
There, outside the battered wall of the kindergarten, we met with a wondrous person, a registered nurse named Carol Simantov, from Levittown, Pa., who has seen, possibly more closely than anyone else, the wages of this ongoing war. But to my deep and complete surprise, she harbored no resentment, not even anger. Instead, she spoke wistfully about her friends back inside the Gaza strip, who are suffering under the yoke of the Hamas government, and how some day this will all be better and she and her kibbutz neighbors would ride their tractors once again to the white beaches of Gaza.
The more she spoke the more I felt that I was in the presence of some kind of Rebbe. I’ve spoken to Rebbes in my life. They all had that quality of seeing the world not for what it is but for what it could be, and conveyed a sense of bottomless patience, ready to wait as long as it took to get there.
I hope the video I shot with her captures the sense of awe she instilled in me, at her ability to remain a human being in the face of almost 40 years of adversity. She isn’t a religious person, not formally, anyway, but it was obvious she trusted that all of us, on either side of the blood-soaked border, are children of God.