April 17, 2024
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April 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

As Yeshiva Week ends and our American friends and families return to their regularly scheduled lives, I reflect back on a question that was posed in many different ways by visitors here in Israel. They wanted to know how the war touches us on a daily basis.

We have so much hakarat hatov to visitors from the Diaspora who came and contributed and contributed to the war effort in various ways including: farming, participating in a mission down south, barbecues for chayalim, hospital visits, kikar hachatufim, cooking for soldiers, packing in a warehouse and surely many others. But many visitors asked me how we Israelis feel the war daily, outside of those types of activities (which we have incorporated into our weekly routines). I thought a lot about this question and asked some friends to weigh in. Here’s a list that we came up with. For 115 days we have been living through a war … Here are some ways we feel this on a very daily basis (listed in no particular order):

  • Dropping off my soldier daughter on Sunday; seeing all of our best and brightest and most beautiful young adults in uniform, heading to unimaginable places to do unimaginable things; knowing in the back of my mind that some won’t return and some will be terribly injured.
  • Funerals, flag processions in our hometowns accompanying the kedoshim, shiva houses and hospital visits have become regular weekly occurrences.
  • Being scared to ask anyone how they are doing. Having so many friends with children on the front lines … thinking of them, davening for them deeply and daily, feeling so scared for them.
  • All of the sounds outside, the jets, the booms, the red alerts, and then when it’s quiet … wondering why… Has something happened? Always looking for the signs for secure areas to run to in case of a siren wherever we go.
  • A table “reserved” for hostages at a cafe.
  • Just listening to the radio, and songs are interrupted by the announcement of a siren somewhere in the country or of another soldier that has been killed in action. Or all the songs played are dedicated to specific hostages, or soldiers, or a little girl on her birthday from her father fighting in Gaza.
  • Driving to Jerusalem amid heavy fog and trying to convince the 5-year-old that it’s not “smoke from the war.”
  • Waking up and checking the news, for bad news, every single day … hoping you won’t know someone personally, knowing that won’t matter, because it is somebody’s baby. Each ding of the phone with a heartbreak emoji … knowing bad news has come yet again.
  • The weather. The rain and the shivering cold. We can’t stop thinking about our soldiers in Gaza and up north and about our hostages in tunnels with the water dripping through them, soaking them, and the bitter cold nights with no warm clothing and blankets, and the Bibas babies…
  • When I say I am starving I stop and think: I am not starving; the hostages are quite literally starving.
  • The fear and uncertainty each day of which direction the war will go in. Making sure our house has water and food and portable chargers in case we lose power for days (which we keep getting texts about).
  • The lack of normality for kids regarding the usual things like tiyuls being canceled, bnei akivah performances being postponed, letters about mandatory drafting (earlier than expected), the inability to future-plan, what will Purim look like, and summer? The things our children talk about that no children should ever be talking about…
  • In the midst of all the daily angst of living through a war, we still are dealing with daily/weekly random terror attacks all over the country. Some by Israeli Arabs whom we have been conditioned to think are “safe.” It’s so unsettling.
  • Worries about the economy, hearing stories of people not being able to afford their rent because their spouse has been in miluim for 3-plus months.
  • The injured—sadly, so, so many soldiers have been injured in terrible ways. They are constantly in our thoughts … they are so young. Visits with them are so painful, seeing their mothers tend to them, biting back their tears.
  • The families of the hostages—living without their loved ones (who have become our loved ones) for so, so many days. Knowing their conditions are horrible. We feel their pain.
  • Guilt, a lot of guilt, for feeling like one is not doing enough; guilt for enjoying regular aspects of life (going out for lunch when we know that the hostages barely have food and then reminding ourselves that we need to support the economy and that the soldiers are protecting us so that we can sit and eat lunch and enjoy for a moment); sadness that pops up unexpectedly in the middle of the day, at gan drop-off watching parents of young children wearing their uniform and weapon across their chest; any sound—a car zooming down the road sounds like the beginning of the siren and thunderstorms sound like bombs, on and on and on…
  • The way we plan/can’t plan for smachot. Will our relatives serving be able to come? Is it appropriate? Should we scale it down? Should we have it at all? Nearly every daily decision comes with these types of questions that are difficult to answer.
  • The exhaustion. Mental and physical. Thinking twice about what errands are and aren’t safe now that you would have done without thinking about a few months ago. When we had middle-of-the-night (and daytime) sirens, it took a long time to recover (besides the mental anguish they caused).
  • The uncertainty—Will the hostages return? Will they be alive? How many more soldiers will pay the ultimate price? Will our refugees from the north and south be able to return home and feel safe? Will the war escalate and if so how and when? Will the world’s opinion of us continue to deteriorate? will the achdut we feel now last? What will the day after look like? The constant thoughts and fears in our minds.

It goes on and on…

Lauren, a Teaneck native, embarked on an aliyah journey with her husband, Zvi, and three children five-and-a-half years ago. As a teacher, mentor and coach at the Lomdei Company, she passionately collaborates with teachers across the United States to help them implement blended and personalized learning in their classrooms. Lauren’s commitment to Zionism shines through, and she considers her aliyah decision to be one of the best in her life. Alongside her husband, Lauren loves hiking and exploring the breathtaking landscapes of Israel, adding a touch of adventure to their life in this vibrant country. Advocating for others to experience Israel, Lauren encourages everyone to visit to see the incredible life one can build here as a part of Am Yisrael. Her daughter currently serves in the IDF, and her son is soon to draft. Lauren is so proud to be living in Israel.

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