In Forest Fields
Over the past six weeks, Israel has become my home. I’ve walked its streets, worked in its bakeries (more on that later), prayed in its synagogues, written on its tables, dipped my feet in its wellsprings and oceans. It has further become a part of the fabric of my existence, the way that I believe I had become a part of its. Israel has a way of entering one’s soul, making itself at home in the hearts of all who come into contact with it. To those who have fallen for Israel as I have, they too know it as more than a country or a spot on a map. Israel is home.
It’s incredible how such a small place can hold so much space in the hearts of so many. You know what they say: Small in size, large in personality. I’ve always loved Israel, but on this trip, I’ve fallen in love with it, a teenage-y, bubbly, giddy love, the kind that makes your heart pound and your palms sweat. There have been dozens of times throughout this trip where I’ve stopped to cry out of sheer awe and love for this tiny, wild little country. It has been on this trip that I’ve decided to make Israel my home for good.
I’ve constantly been in awe of the people here, of their way of life, of their smiles and good tidings even in the face of terror. Throughout the past two weeks, as terror attacks have once again begun to shake this country, the citizens have retaliated not with fear, with rebellion, or with equally gruesome attacks, but with dancing. Yes, dancing. In the places where they strike us down, we’ve risen again, and we’ve danced. There is so much beauty in this country’s ability to realize and recognize G-d’s presence in this world, as difficult and as cloudy it may be at times. You can try striking us down, but we’ll only rise back up.
Simchas Torah arrived with a heavy burden for me this year. Four deaths in two days. How could I possibly be happy, how could I possibly celebrate when innocent families were burying their loved ones? How could I dance my heart out while the murderers celebrated their disgusting acts against my brothers and sisters? Where was the joy in knowing that dozens of children were now without parents?
And then, I walked into shul on Sunday night, and my mood was immediately transformed. The question quickly became how could I not dance? How could I stand idly by and not partake in the happiest day of the year? If I stood by, bitter with anger and hatred from the men who took the lives of my fellows, I was essentially showing them that they won. Stopping our livelihood, stopping our momentum shows the terrorists that we’ve been defeated. And we can’t have that, can we?
On Monday night, I attended a musical hakafot party in Gan Saker, a grassy, green park in the heart of Jerusalem. There, along with thousands of other Jews from all over the country, we danced and danced, until our feet were sore and our hearts were ready to give out. We danced in memory of those that we lost in the heartbreaking attacks; we danced for their families, and the children they left behind. We celebrated their lives with our stomping feet, and praised them with the claps of our hands.
Mi K’Amcha Yisroel? In the face of terror, we celebrate life. In the face of pain, we will always rise. Among nations, in oceans, desert, city, and forest fields, we will praise the name of G-d, and continue to live with the hearty emunah that is so engrained into our existence.
In the face of terror, we will always continue to celebrate life.
PS: Look out for more stories about my Israel trip, coming soon.