web analytics
May 29, 2015 / 11 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Bliss, Loss, Under Fire, Peace? My Summer in Israel

Twenties-082214-Girls

The only way to really understand what happened in Israel this summer is to have been here.

I arrived in Israel on May 27. It felt the same as it had the last time I was here, a little under a year ago. I roamed the shuk eating fresh figs, hiked my ancestors’ paths, camped out on the beach, learned at seminary, and met with friends all over the country.

On Friday, June 13, my adventures were marred by the taste of what living in Israel really means. I was waiting in the Central Bus Station with my friend, Phil, who was in uniform. A soldier hearing us speaking English asks if we know what happened. Three of our boys have been kidnapped, he says, near Hebron. We think: Impossible, Phil would be the first to know, his unit is in Hebron. As Shabbat arrives, the news is verified. Shabbat in Tel Aviv; the synagogue packed with scores of Jews of different affiliations, gathering together to recite Tehillim, the words ascribed to King David. They worked for him, let this be over soon.

Sunday comes, but it’s not over. Travel plans with friends are still on, though it’s hard not to constantly check my phone for updates. I feel the urgency during our tefillos. Natives slap me with “Are you crazy?” as I wait for a hitchhike, and I retort “We can’t live in fear.” I see my the face of my seminary teacher, Rachelle Fraenke on television. This was happening.

One minute you’re shaving shwarma off a pit, then the shwarma guy tells you he read a (fake) WhatsApp that the boys are dead.

I visit Phil’s base in Hebron, and see the conditions his unit works under. Soldiers are no longer the attractive gun-holders I knew from teen tours. These are my friends, spending their 20th and 21st years following orders and “eating dirt” in the field. The condition of their equipment helps me decide on my latest project. I contact friends and family, and raise enough money to donate headlights and water backpacks, around $10,000, through Yashar LaChayal. The project was personal. I couldn’t just prance around the country, freeloading protection from kids my age. They were putting their lives on the line to ensure our safety. What was I doing?

I start volunteering with Ethiopian teenagers in Kiryat Malachi, teaching English in a summer camp with YU Counterpoint. I learn about the government’s low expectations for the teens. This manifests itself in camp, where my campers tell themselves they have poor English. I see that without us, most of these campers would be on the street, many without food at home, with no aspirations to even finish high school. But we believe in them.

It’s June 30 and we’re eating dinner. After nightly words of Torah, our head counselor rises. She generally speaks only when there is news, and in these past few weeks no news has been good news. I haven’t checked my phone in the hour since dinner started, and in a way I was grateful that the news was coming from someone I knew. It was over: the three kidnapped boys were dead. We walk back to our dorm in silence. All staff meetings were canceled, all plans postponed. All we could do was lie on the grass in silence. We ask each other: Why do bad things happen to good people? What happened to all of our prayers? Will I spill my theological crises to strangers on the bus, or will I put my headphones back in my ears as if nothing has happened? I think of Robert Frost’s poem “Home Burial” – is it better to mourn or better to move on? A question I would find myself asking all summer. For camp at least, my personal answer didn’t matter. The next day I would come to camp with a smile and my usual excitement. Our campers needed us.

About the Author:


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.

2 Responses to “Bliss, Loss, Under Fire, Peace? My Summer in Israel”

  1. Thanks for the insight , we need , all of us to know what it is like from Our peoples experiences, keep up the good work.

  2. I stand with Israel Now and Forever from USA and thank all of the friends of Israel for their support!

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
What's happened to NYC's Celebrate Israel Parade?
Israel Rejects as ‘False’ UJA Federation’s Claims about Israel Parade ‘Inclusion’
Latest Sections Stories
West-Coast-logo

Tal Dimenstein has been selected to present her ELI Talk about Appreciation during this year’s conference in Chicago.

How is it possible that some of our people cannot see what I see, the miracle of the existence of the state of Israel?

Birobidzhan railway station sign is the world’s only one spelling the town’s name in Yiddish letters

She’s seen as a poster child for The Jewish Home’s efforts to reach beyond its Orthodox base.

Girls don’t usually learn Gemara. Everyone knows that.

Mordechai and his men shared a strong mutual loyalty.

“Can I wear tefillin in the bathroom?” That was the question US Private Nuchim Lebensohn wrote to Mike Tress, president of the Agudath Israel Youth Council, in a letter dated November 18, 1942. Lebensohn was not your typical young American GI. Polish by birth, he was forty-three years old and married when he was drafted […]

To what extent is your child displaying defiance?

This therapist kept focusing on how “I could do better,” never on how we could make the marriage work.

Mistrust that has lingered after the fiasco in Ferguson, Missouri, has edged the issue forward.

“The observance of a kosher diet is a key tenet of Judaism, and one which no state has the right to deny,” said Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy of the Orthodox Union.

More Articles from Rivka Hia
Twenties-082214-Girls

One minute you’re shaving shwarma off a pit, then the shwarma guy tells you he read a (fake) WhatsApp that the boys are dead.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/teens-twenties/bliss-loss-under-fire-peace-my-summer-in-israel/2014/08/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: