We’re deep into Israel’s nationalistic stretch: The days encompassing Yom HaShoah, YomHaZikaron, and Yom HaAtzmaut (Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel’s Fallen Soldiers Remembrance Day, and Independence Day). There is certainly much for a new oleh to observe and reflect upon during this time. But the truth is, I still feel very much an outsider when it comes to honoring Israel’s fallen and celebrating the miracle of her existence.
Of course, I will do as anyone living in Israel would do during this week: Perhaps I will watch a documentary or two on the life of a fallen soldier and the impact of his death on his family. I will show up to the events organized by my community. I will dress my kids in blue and white. I will snap photos of my children and my husband singing nationalistic songs. I will feel awkward that I don’t know the words or the melodies. But nonetheless I will feel pride: for them, my family, the loves of my life.
I might even shed a tear or two.
But the truth is, I don’t feel these holidays in my heart of hearts.
Don’t feel sorry for me. Don’t judge me. I am sure it’s normal, and not a sign of some pathology.
The fact that I don’t feel in my heart of hearts the hurt of losing a brother or a father in the Yom Kippur War is, in fact, a blessing to me. It’s a gift. It’s a hurt I don’t miss.
The fact that I don’t yet feel connected to the relief that comes with knowing your homeland is safe, after war, is also a blessing.
The fact that I live in Israel and don''t feel connected to the pain or to the relief means that it’s possible to live in Israel and feel safe. It means that it is possible to live in Israel and experience a tragedy-free life.
There are not many who would acknowledge this to be true or even understand how such words can come from my lips as headlines shout the threat of war with Iran, or as sirens continue to wail in Southern Israel.
There are some who will call me stupid for thinking it, and insensitive for writing it.
And there are some — The ones who dream. The ones who create the worlds we live into. The ones who imagine the future as they would have it be — Those people would smile. And nod knowingly.
Those people would see that we already live in the future we all hope for.
The future in which Israel is safe. Free of violence. Free of war. Free of fear.
Because for me, that future is today. This moment. Right now.
And if for one day, I may live in Israel and not feel the pain or fear or suffering, doesn’t it mean a safe, war-free Israel already exists?
Sit with it for a moment: Israel is safe. Israel is a place without suffering.
If it is true, may this be a comfort to those who have lost loved ones in Israel’s wars?
It should be. Because it’s what their loved ones were fighting for.
May it be a comfort to those who still bear scars from terrorist attacks or from rockets?
I hope so. Because it means there is hope that there will be no more scars.
If one person can live in Israel and for just one moment feel safe and secure and free to live her life --work, play laugh, love -- then it must be true.
It is in this moment, in this one moment, when hope is born; and futures, as we dream them, are real.