I was born in the United States, schooled there, married there. I gave birth to my first three children there and learned the fear and worry that all parents have of strangers who may hurt our children, deviants who may catch them, horrors that may befall them if we but turn our eyes away for a few seconds. That's all it would take, we convince ourselves.
Typically, when I give bad news, I start off by saying "things are okay...but" - there is no bad news here, but I just want to say to all the parents who are about to feel their heart stop for a second...nothing happened, everything is fine.
My youngest daughter called me a few minutes ago. Yesterday, she came and asked me for money. The school is collecting a fund in memory of a soldier who was killed in Gaza. The soldier was the older brother of a girl in my daughter's class so my daughter wants to help.
It is a common practice for children to go from house to house and collect money for various charities. They always go in pairs; always with receipt books. My daughter is 10 years old today. I just spoke to her on the phone and she explained how she and a friend went collecting money. They stopped at a house and...
"the woman was so nice. She told us to come in and then she gave us something to drink and some cookies."
And the part of me that had raised children in America began to panic. Two young girls...going into the house of a stranger..."and she gave us 20 shekels." (About 5 dollars).
And then I remembered...we live in Israel - this is the way it is here. Children are safe here, they really are. It reminded me of something that happened to me when my youngest son was a baby. I was on a bus with him. It was my stop and so pushing the carriage, I maneuvered to the exit with him in my arms. The door opened and the man in front of me went out of the bus.
He turned and held out a hand to take something, to help me. I reached out with the hand that held the carriage. He looked at me and said, "What, you care more about the carriage than the baby? Give me the baby!"
There were people in the street looking at him, people on the bus looking at me. The hesitation probably lasted a few seconds at most and then, terrified, I handed him the baby. I climbed down with the stroller and went to take my son.
He smiled at me and without moving an inch, with my son in his arms, said, "Why don't you open the carriage and then take your son."
I did as he said and then he gently handed the baby back. I looked at him and tried to explain. In America, I would never have handed anyone my baby. He looked surprised for a minute and then smiled, "You aren't in America. In Israel, you hand the baby to someone so that you don't fall with the baby. The carriage," he said and then shrugged his shoulders, smiled and left.
That's how it is here - my daughter went into a strangers house, was given something to drink and eat, and sent safely on her way. This is the society, the land, the people, that Elie defends.
And one more thing...this morning Elie called me and asked me if I was in a certain location...it is exactly where I was, as I was driving to work. "How do you know?" I asked him, already trying to look around.
"I just passed you going down the hill," he said.
He's on his way to a military exercise deep