Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thoughts on a Solemn Day

Yom Kippur is an amazing day of reflection. You can't really stop yourself from thinking of so many things related to your life, things you have done, how you have treated people and how they have treated you. There were the regular thoughts and prayers I have each year and this year, for the first time, there were new ones as well. Perhaps it is a sign of growing older; of having four of my five children fasting, of knowing my youngest child has long since left "baby" behind and is fast approaching maturity.

She spent most of the day helping a neighbor with young children and the night before a friend came over and told me how cute my daughter was holding her baby. Holding her baby...my baby who isn't a baby anymore. None of them are. Shmulik was home. Elie was home. I was grateful to have that peace of mind and yet...

When I was in the synagogue, my mind went off into imagining the moment in 1973 when people came into the synagogues and announced that Israel was under attack. Strange thoughts to have.

I stayed home for part of the services because I needed to be home (more on that at some point). I looked to the east to Jordan, at one point. I stopped praying and listened to the silence of the moment. In the distance, I could hear the prayers being sung in the synagogue nearby; children playing in the park. And the strangest thought came into my head...

If at this moment, Iran were to launch missiles at us...or Syria...or Hizbollah...all of Israel is now within range. What would the world say tomorrow about the Jewish nation that once was? Most of us have grown up in a world where Israel simply as here; only those in their late 60s (at the earliest) and more likely those in the 70s remember a world where Israel wasn't simply a reality.

These thoughts crossed my mind as I stood there and listened to the peaceful silence of the day. We've built a most amazing country here in this beautiful little land. We are at peace as we live in this land - if not with our neighbors, at least with ourselves. Our crime rate is lower than in most lands, our health care above. Business is flowing into this land - sure times are bad in the world economically, but we are weathering the storms, day by day, somehow.

But as I stood there thinking, imaging that horrible moment and where my family would be and how I would find them if we were separated and wondering what the world would do or think...I realized once again how despite leading a normal life, there are moments that are so not-normal here. I don't believe people in America contemplate their imminent destruction on a national level; I don't believe you do in England and France, South Africa or Australia. I don't believe you do in Arab nations, or Russia or South America.

And yet, we have a madman in Iran threatening our destruction and a world that sees in all we do only evil. We have nations threatening us for all manner of things and pressure coming from the US. I'm not sure what brought on these thoughts on such a solemn day but it was suddenly there, disturbing the peace and bringing images of such sadness.

Not to leave you with such thoughts, though - I will tell you that the sun is shining here in Jerusalem; it is a beautiful day and we are approaching what I believe is my favorite holiday of all...Sukkot! More on that soon.

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