web analytics
April 26, 2015 / 7 Iyar, 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
British MP Ed Miliband is not excluded from being targeted on Twitter by local anti-Semites, regardless of his liberal views.
In UK, Muslim Candidate Sneers at Ed Miliband, ‘The Jew’
Latest Sections Stories
Food-Talk---Eller-logo

“People who never buy cookbooks are getting this one,” said Victoria. “They read it cover to cover and find it so interesting.”

South-Florida-logo

We have recently witnessed how other minorities deal with even perceived danger aimed at their brothers and sisters. They respond in great numbers.

South-Florida-logo

The Hebrew Academy students took part in all categories and used successful and innovative techniques to achieve their goals.

“The objective behind establishing small communities as places for relocation was a remedy for the excessive cost of housing and education in the large New York metropolitan market,” Mr. Savitsky explained.

Jewish Democrats did not entirely trust the son of Joseph Kennedy, a man broadly considered to be both anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi.

The teenage years are not about surviving. They are about thriving.

Every moment was a gift. I held each one, savoring.

We arrived in Auschwitz on Thursday, January 30, 2014. My seminary was taking us to see where the prisoners were kept. When we got there, I stepped off the bus in complete and total silence. I was in the back, and when we got to the gate I hesitated and started shaking uncontrollably. I couldn’t […]

From the moment Israel was declared a Jewish state, it has been the subject of controversy and struggle.

Now that Pesach is over, we return you to your regularly-scheduled pressing questions:   Dear Mordechai, Can I use a nose hair trimmer during Sefirah? Harry Lipman   Dear Harry, Yes, as long as your nose hairs are so bad that they’re affecting your job. Like if you have a desk job, and they interfere […]

It is very natural for kids to want attention and to be jealous of each other, especially when there is a new baby.

During the Second World War, a million and a half Jewish soldiers fought in the Allied armies, the Partisan units in Eastern Europe, and the anti-fascist underground movements in Western Europe and North Africa. These Jewish fighters won over 200,000 medals and citations. The Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II in Latrun, […]

The 2-day real estate event will take place in Brooklyn on April 26 and 27.

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: