Some personal experiences and thoughts of the past weeks – things you won't hear on BBC, CNN or sky news
– Parents, students, people from Kibbutzim, villages, cities, religious and secular, girls in shorts, boys in sandals, some with Kippot. Hundreds of volunteers from all over Israel came, different groups every day, to a small, usually forsaken, junction in the south, to prepare sandwiches filled with fresh vegetables, tuna or meat – to be sent directly to our soldiers in the front, inside Gaza; food and refreshments for soldiers who are on a few hours of rest before they return to battle; some ice cream and treats for the volunteers themselves; and of course, an Iron Dome to protect us. An amazing display of human care, shared worry and desire to help in any way we can. The day I worked there, three wonderful blessings came my way: first, my niece who lives in a village near the border of the Gaza strip came for a visit. She is raising four young children who live in a constant state of threat. Rockets have been attacking them for the past 14 years. The embrace we shared was like no embrace we have shared before. Second, in the middle of the day, I heard a request to prepare food for Bar's unit. I felt like every sandwich was going directly to feed him. And last, the soldiers who came to pick up the sandwiches said they can take a letter directly to him. Someone handed me a pen, another found paper, and I quickly wrote. My hand was shaking. what can you possibly write in such a situation? Only what is obvious, but also the only things that matter. That's what I did.
– A colleague living abroad wrote that he can't imagine the situation. So I wrote him the following text, trying to give him a taste of what it's like: "Imagine this: my assistant has two very young children. Running three stories down from her apartment to the shelter in her building with them in the middle of the night when the sirens go off, is a very frightening ordeal, as she never knows if she will be able to get to the shelter on time before the explosion is heard; Imagine this: hearing the explosions of the rockets over our heads, understanding that they missed and thanking whatever it is you believe in that no one was harmed; Imagine this: stopping in the middle of the highway and rushing out of the car, hands on your head, to lay on the ground for 10 minutes to make sure no rocket or shrapnel hits you; and finally, Imagine this: my 2 year old granddaughter telling me with wide eyes: "Grandma, there are no fireworks now, but if there will be, we'll go to the shelter" – she's only 2 with the kind of knowledge no normal life should teach a child. Her parents told her the rockets she saw in the sky were fireworks, but that these are a bad kind of fireworks that are not welcome, so when she hears the loud "BEEEEP" (their version of a siren…), everybody goes into the shelter room and waits for the "bad fireworks" to end. It's her first war. With our neighbors, chances are it won't be her last." After imagining, he wrote: "Wow…the ground truth of these missiles is much more frightening than I imagined". How true.
Next time you hear someone talking about "proportionate reactions", ask them to imagine living like this for only one day. Then, ask them again: what would you do to stop this, that is considered "proportionate" and that ensures there is no misuse of basic materials. What would you DO. Any answers?
– Research claims that "hugs promote the health of your heart".
There are many different kinds of hugs. Hugs that express the joy of a meeting. A hug of protection, assuring us that we are not alone. Hugs of ceasing the moment before we must let go. A hug of desire that contains a sweet promise. A hug of support, helping our legs when they aren't strong enough to stand. The hug of a child that feels safe again, of lovers who have longed for each other, of brothers who have found their missing piece.
None of these hugs can describe to total, intense and complete hug of a parent to a child that has returned from the battlefield. It doesn't promote the health of the heart. It ensures it.
– Many words of pride have been said about our children who are soldiers in the IDF, about how this pampered generation of computer games, sushi and LCD's has proven that when the hour of truth comes, their values are in the exact right place. They left their smartphones behind and rushed to defend our lives.
But they proved one more thing.
Theirs is a generation that was accused of not knowing what the meaning of "friendship" really is. Of sitting in their rooms with their computers instead of playing outdoors with other children. When you have hundreds or thousands of "friends" on facebook, no one is really your friend. They have proven that everyone who said this, was wrong. One of the strongest aspects of what they are telling us is the deep and humane friendship that helped them through these challenging times. They took care of each other, supporting, carrying, helping. Making sure each of them has something to eat. giving an exhausted fellow soldier a few more minutes of sleep. Carrying the gear of two when a friend's arm broke. reading a letter to another soldier when his eyes became blurred. Waiting for those who were out on a certain mission to return, making sure they all did, counting and double-checking te presence of each and every one. The choking feeling when, upon returning into Israel, some of the friends who were wounded and sent back to hospitals a few days before jumped out of their sickbeds and rushed – bandages, limps and all – to greet them.
The tears for those who are gone.
Friendship. True, basic human friendship. No facebook will ever replace it.
– For a while, we had the opportunity to glimpse at our future generation. The same generation that within a decade or two will take charge of Israel – politically, financially, creatively and socially. They completed their missions with dignity and heroism. No less. In view of their values and dedication, it is our duty to do everything we can so that their path is made easier and more optimistic. They have proven that they are worthy of being the future. It is our responsibility to prove that we are worthy of them.
– Thank you for all the calls, emails and loving thoughts that we received during these weeks – they are absolutely heartwarming and strengthening!