I may have a talent for coffee dates but I’m not the queen of Israel. I was raised in a home that certainly supported Israel but didn’t wear Zionism on its sleeve; in fact, I was underwhelmed during my first visit to Israel as a 16-year-old. Was this really it? Where was my big revelation, my AHA moment? Instead, I was more worried about the boys on my summer program and what I’d be wearing for Shabbat.
Israel in June and July just felt hot and filled with empty promises.
All of this has left me with a bit of a secret: I’m a self-proclaimed ‘Israel-distant’ Hillel professional. I’ve held close to optimism, remembering my 11-year-old self who watched Rabin and Arafat shake hands on the White House steps. This was the marker of before and after; BEFORE, there was trauma. Now, the great AFTER, there would be peace. I’ve left the difficult Israel conversations to my talented Jewish Agency Israel Fellows. I’ve happily gone on Birthright as the ‘Jewish Identity’ staff member; if they wanted G/d, they’d come to me. If they wanted Israel, I’d send them elsewhere.
But today, my coffee queen questions are posed to myself: What role should Israel play in my life? On a day that feels hopeless, where is my hope?
For someone who lives blocks from the halls of power, I’m not a politically inclined person and doubt I ever will be. I am turned off by extremes, by those so blinded by their own beliefs that they can’t relate to the other side. But today, I write as a mother – a real one, and on some level a person who plays a maternal role to many of her students. How can we live in a world that takes our most precious commodity – our children – and uses them to prove points? How many children, after the loss of these precious teenage souls, will now be negatively impacted by the inevitable violence that will come as a result of this heinous crime?
I want to believe that my own daughter – and my amazing students, not much older than Eyal, Naftali, & Gil-ad – will have their own 11 year-old moment that sticks. May peace come. May we believe in peace more than we believe in violence. May we teach our children goodness and hope, even on days such as these that feel so dark.