Yonah and I were in Old Navy when my phone shrieked with an Amber Alert: a three-year-old had been abducted.
He went tense. “Someone’s been kidnapped?”
For the next five minutes, my 12-year-old plied me with questions I couldn’t answer.
I decided not to mention the riots in Jerusalem or the 1000-plus rockets that have been shot into Israel from Gaza in the last 40 hours.
I know I can’t hide this from my kids forever. We’re moving to a country with a blood-soaked history; virtually every Israeli has been affected by war and terror – children included. I came face to face with it myself at 14, when our family friend, Alisa Flatow, was killed in a bus bombing when she should have been on her way to meet us for Passover in Jerusalem.
And yet, we’re still going.
You may wonder what mother in her right mind would leave the comfort and safety of the United States to bring her children to such a place, and why, in the face of rocket fire, she is even more determined to take them there.
My sister-in-law, Rachelli, is a mother in Israel. Like me, she chose to move there with her family. Yesterday, she sent me a video of my 8-year-old nephew in their mamad (reinforced room – a staple of most Israeli households), where, as rockets flared in the night sky, she had put him and his siblings to sleep. Instead of panicking, he sang to himself about his faith in God’s protection.
This is why I’m still moving to Israel.
I learned at a young age that the world we live in is not always a safe place. Even in the United States, The Land of the Free, people of color are killed indiscriminately, pandemics take hold and wipe out millions, and shooters walk into schools, universities, malls, and houses of worship and rip lives apart.
For Jews, it’s even more dangerous. The last century alone is proof of that. Just four years ago,
neo-Nazis with tiki torches marched on Charlottesville, chanting, “Jews will not replace us.” Just two years ago, 11 people were murdered during Shabbat services in Pittsburgh. And just last month, synagogues in New York were vandalized with swastikas.
Violence and terror have always been. If I have to live with them, I want to do it in Israel, with my people, where my family and I belong. And if my children ever have to face them, I will point to the millions of Israelis who get up each day and, despite their losses, live their lives without giving in to fear. And I will teach them, like my nephew, to sing.