August 08, 2006

Subject: checking news at 3 a.m. . . . again

Me (in Atlanta):
how are you guys doing? i cannot imagine the stress in your parts where it is a constant part of the conversation or psyche. … longing for better days... asap. – t

Chaim (in Jerusalem):
Everyone here is healthy in the meantime. Noam entered Lebanon last night, and Aviyah entered [Lebanon] last week. Can't use phones there, so we wait to hear. We're managing. Thanks for your solidarity.

As I read my cousin Chaim’s reply, I react in three ways:

I see Noam (shown giving his pal Daniel a buzz cut), Chaim's and Gila's son who “entered Lebanon last night …”. And I ache for his parents, whose sons Hilly and Yehoshua are serving with the IDF now, too.

A mere week ago, Gila wrote: "... It is hard to believe but different parts of Israel [as small as it is] feel differently. People in the north are scared. Relatives of soldiers who are serving in the north and in the south are worried. Others are living their everyday lives and praying, looking for things to do to help, calling people in shelled cities, making room in their homes for refugees , collecting toys, etc. . . . I hope and pray for better days. . . .".

I see Aviyah (shown in a bear hug with his father, Chanan), about whom Chaim reports, “Aviyah entered [Lebanon] last week.” Chaim is anticipating my question on our cousins’ Ditza’s and Chanan’s paratrooper son.

I weep openly
for everyone's children, relatives, parents, loved ones, neighbors, friends, comrades, fellows defending the State of Israel nearly six decades. And, I weep for the human family, as terrorists' extremism and violence invade us all.

I will never know the pain and suffering that a "real Israeli" like them (versus me, Jerusalemite by birth, raised and living in the USA, and only recently a dual citizens with two passports and an Israeli identity card).

While I lack direct experience or comprehension of my personal Israeli neighborhood or in the greater neighborhood of all continents, I do know Noam and Aviyah.

When my Atlanta friends, neighbors, postal carrier, shopkeepers, service people, colleagues, dentists, and others ask whether I will return to Israel late September, as planned, their questions surprise me. Of course, I will. And I will thank Noam and Aviyah — sweet, loving, bright, and life-affirming young men for protecting their families, their communities, their nation, their dreams, and the prayers and actions of peace-seekers everywhere.

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