Silence from the world. Just silence.
Every morning I wake up to an abundant number of notifications from various Israeli news sites. You name it, I read it, with dread and sadness. More stabbings. A car ramming. Another shooting.
I want to shout at the world: Imagine for a minute that this was happening in your country, your state, your neighborhood. Imagine walking out of your home and fearing that someone with a knife might approach you at any moment. Would we hear about it? Would we get both sides of the story?
I am an American Jew who has been to Israel several times, so you can only imagine the frustration I’m going through. For more than two weeks now, my attention has been directed to the news rather than the midterms I should probably be studying for. I read and analyze article after article so that I might understand any little bit I can.
As the terrorist attacks mounted, I found I couldn’t keep it in anymore. I needed to talk to someone about how I was feeling, someone who would understand.
Today was the first time I felt relieved. Today I was able to talk about the situation. I sat down with two staff members at Hillel, one of whom is Israeli. I started firing questions at them: “Do you think this has to do with the Palestinian Authority president declaring that the Palestinians would no longer be bound by the Oslo Accords?” “Do you think this would be happening if the Palestinian flag hadn’t been raised the for the first time at the United Nations?”
Was I really asking that? A few months ago I barely knew what was going on in the world. Now, rather than studying I’m making timelines on what’s happening each day.
“What about Birthright Israel’s December trip?” I asked the Hillel programs director. “Do you think it will be canceled?” No way, was the response. Nothing can keep us away from our homeland; Israel is strong and Israel is here to stay, as Prime Minister Netanyahu said at the Knesset last week.
Our conversation didn’t stop there. We began to talk about what life would be like in Israel. How many of us would move there in a time like this? We talked about Nefesh B’Nefesh, the organization that helps Americans make aliyah. For anyone who knows me, it’s a running joke by now – people are always asking when I’m finally going to make aliyah. I’ve talked about it for years, and think about it all the time, but I never actually looked into a program.
There are many reasons people make aliyah. But what would mine be? Yes, Israel is home – but I don’t believe my love for Eretz Yisrael comes only from the feeling of being at home. My love for Israel goes beyond that. It gets right to the heart about what it means to be a Jew.
To me, Judaism is not just a religion. It involves language, history, culture, peoplehood – and, of course, Israel, our homeland, the home of the Jewish people. It’s where I feel safest.
Over the past few months there have been several well-publicized shootings here in the U.S., some of them on college campuses. So why is it that when hearing of such incidents, I occasionally experience feelings of fear while sitting in a classroom, yet when I read and hear about what’s going on in Israel, all I can think about is: Why am I not there, where I belong?
Israel is not perfect; no country is. But Israel is a country that brings people from all over the world together. Some day this wave of terror will die down. And some day I will be on that aliyah flight to Israel.
Every night I close my computer when it’s time to go to bed. I leave each tab open with a different news website I’ll read when I wake up in the morning. Tonight, I will close my computer leaving another tab open – that of Nefesh B’Nefesh.
The world may be silent about what’s going on in Israel, but I won’t be silent to the world.