Friday, October 16, 2015

The Reality from Jerusalem, Israel

I am not going to delve into the political, historical and religious underpinnings of the current Blood Libel/Pogrom/Intifada that is currently taking place all over Israel, compounded by the irresponsible and frankly, ridiculously biased treatment of Israel by the American administration, the United Nations and the international media.

I am not going to describe how I feel as a parent, dropping my daughter off at school every day, terrified and wondering if the one armed security guard is actually capable of protecting anyone, as he cannot be in all places at the same time.

Today I spoke to Raphaela's First Grade teacher and asked her if the girls seem to be affected in terms of focus or fears by the events of the past two weeks.  She explained that they had a brief discussion in class, in which they clarified that there are good people and bad people in the world;  they talked about how parents might be asking them to be more aware and more careful, and how maybe it is not the best time to ride on your bike alone and far away from the house these days.

Her teacher explained that she purposely held this forum right before the morning prayers, to emphasize that there is only so much that we can control, only so much that their parents can do to be extra-careful, and that through prayer we put our faith in a higher power, one that is meant to protect us and bring us comfort in the bigger picture.  Thankfully, Raphaela's teacher reported that most of the girls seem to be clueless and as happy-go-lucky as ever.

For my own part, I have not shared the gory and scary details with Raphaela.  She knows that there are people out there today who do not want what is best for Jews, just as there has been throughout our history:  Nimrod (who tried to kill Abraham), Pharaoh (who enslaved and tried to kill the Jewish people), Haman (who tried to wipe out all the Jews under the rule of Persia), Babylon (who destroyed the Temple and exiled most of the Jews from Israel),  Hitler (The Shoah, six million Jews and several other million non-Jews), Idi Amin (Raphaela learned the story of Operation Entebbe), Arabs etc.

As far as Raphaela is concerned, this current state of undeclared war is just a continuation of history, "so let's go to the zoo." Except that the zoo is a wide open space and full of potential targets, so I as a parent do not feel comfortable taking her there. Instead, we have scheduled lots of indoor play dates.  These days we don't dally before and after errands, we do what we must and get home as quickly as possible. 

These days, the streets of Jerusalem are pretty empty, and there is a small canister of pepper spray hiding inside my pocket book.

On the way back from the supermarket this week, five police vans zoomed past us in the other direction of traffic toward one of the multiple attacks of the day, sirens blazing, and my heart sank. I sighed visibly, and Raphaela asked me what was wrong.  I replied that there was lots of traffic, and that I just wanted to get home safely.

The other day, picking up Raphaela from school, a little girl from her class and her older sister seemed to be scared and confused, because the building was closing for the day and their parents were not there yet.  "Don't worry," said her older sister, "we will just walk home by ourselves." I would not allow it, I called their mother and told her that they were coming with me, and that they could stay with us as long as they needed to.

Last night, as Raphaela sat in the bath tub, we could hear the endless stream of helicopters and police and ambulances outside.  Raphaela said, "Oh, so many sirens! Maybe someone is really really sick.  Or maybe a woman is about to give birth and she has to get to the hospital really quickly."

I am OK with that level of denial for now, she's only six years old.  One of us has to sleep at night.

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