Dear American Jews: Yes you can imagine

To my fellow American Jewish parents:
I know you were deeply affected by the murder of Ezra Schwartz. I was too. Especially here in the Northeast, it seems that everyone "knows someone who knows someone" that knows Ezra or his family. But more than that, this particular murder was one that was easy for American Jews to relate to on a personal level. We can all imagine being Ezra's parent.
Virtually every American Jewish parent either already has experienced, or expects to experience, the kaleidoscope of emotions that accompanies a child's solo trip to Israel: pride, joy, longing, excitement, accomplishment, missing them, maybe a little envy (wish we could be there too!), and yes.. that niggling fear. The fear we want to shake off but can't ever quite eliminate. The fear we know, statistically, is overblown. The fear that, despite the probabilities being strongly against it, your child might be the unlucky one who is hurt or (Gd forbid) killed in a terror attack. The fear that never quite leaves your mind from the moment you drop them off at the airport to the moment their plane lands back home. Whether it is a high school trip, a synagogue trip, a birthright trip - or a longer gap year or semester abroad - each of us can vividly imagine ourselves as Ezra Schwartz's parents.
But before Ezra Schwartz drifts off into memory, I want you to know something. This is how Israeli parents feel too. It is exactly the same. The only difference is that for Israelis, the feeling is permanent. Rather than being limited to a few weeks or months, it is a lifelong condition that begins the first time the babysitter takes your toddler to the park. It continues through dropping them off at kindergarten, grade school, and summer camp. And when your tweens and teens meet for pizza or go to a movie or just hang out. And so on until they are married with children of their own.
Too often, I hear American Jews say "I can't imagine how Israeli moms feel right now." But you can. If you can understand the parents of Ezra Schwartz, then you can understand the parents of Hadar Buchris (age 21 from Tzfat) and Ziv Mizrahi (age 18, from Givat Ze’ev), who were both murdered the same week as Ezra, and in a similar fashion. You can imagine the feelings of the parents of every Israeli child (no matter how old) murdered by terrorists simply for being Jewish in the Jewish homeland. Because they are the same. 
So the next time you see a news report about yet another stabbing or car attack or stoning, don't just sigh and say "I can't imagine." Read the names. And their parents names. Where they were from and what they had hoped to become. And remember: they are just like Ezra. Their parents are just like the Schwartzes. They are just like you.
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