If I believed the media descriptions of life in Israel, I would likely shrivel and die in my home, forever afraid to step out the door, consumed with fear that violence and terror would even come into my home without warning.
Few people who live outside Israel
have any understanding about my home. It is the most peaceful country in
the world. Wow, read that again but don't laugh this time. I have no
fear of walking through a long tunnel, no fear that causes me to drive
through a neighborhood with my windows up and my doors locked.
I cannot drive safely at night, I should not drive during the day. In
most places, where a woman is vulnerable to attack, so is a man. The two
exceptions to this are in areas where primarily Israelis don't live.
Like the discussion of car accidents in Israel, it is not politically
correct to single out a particular group as being more likely to be
involved than others - just use Google for known statistics on crime in
Israel, terror attacks in Israel (and car accidents).
becomes almost funny how newscasters dance around words to find a way to
say what we all know and only in the form of statistics released by
governmental or NGOs do we admit the truth. The point is not so much who
is to blame, as the fact that the vast majority of Israelis conduct
their lives with almost no fear of becoming the victim of crime and
though terrorism is a reality here, it is one that does not consume our
We are very much a dafka people. What does
dafka mean? It is one of my favorite Hebrew words because it defines so
much of what we are...and it is, in many ways, impossible to translate.
in my freshman year of college, I was engaged in a lively debate in
class. The professor was loving how involved the students were; the
students were loving the open and fast discussion, exchanges of
information and opinion. One young woman said something and I, a young
woman myself, quickly responded without thought, "Dafka, the
opposite..." and before I could go much further, the young woman asked,
"Dafka? Huh?" and the professor, who was Jewish smiled and said, "Yes,
Paula, explain dafka."
Dafka is when your parents tell
you to do something and you, to prove your point, do exactly the
opposite. Dafka is when by all that is logical, you should be too afraid
to drive on that road or take that train and so you do because, dafka,
you won't let them push you away. Dafka is not an action so much as a
frame of mind. Logic may tell you to do one thing, but on
principle...dafka...you will do something else.
that is logical, we should feel like we live in a war zone, but dafka,
we feel that we live in the most peaceful place on earth because though
we can't trust our neighbors over there, we know that our neighbors over
here have our backs.
On Fridays, most of all, we feel
that peace is coming...no, not with our Palestinian and Arab neighbors
who are once again turning up the flames of terror and war, but among
ourselves. For those who are observant, the Sabbath in Israel is a day
of quiet, of peace, of prayer, of family and friends.
ate Friday night dinner at Amira's house. I helped cook part of the
mean; she cooked the other half. The only problem with this equation, as
my wonderful son-in-law points out with a smile, is that we each
typically cook enough for double the amount of participants
expected...since we each did that, there was, needless to say, too much
Today, we went to the synagogue - a relatively
new one in the neighborhood that we have come to love. It is an oasis
born out of frustration with other options. Everyone is welcome, the
service is meaningful and lively. Many years ago, when we first moved to
the neighborhood, we were welcomed by this community in this location.
Then it got overcrowded and moved to a larger place and lost itself.
Politics and ultimately cruel treatment is what we experienced there
amid first the silence and then worse, abuse.
there and wondered for a while until the core group that had started the
first service we had loved...returned to the same place. Back to the
start but in some ways better because this time around, we see what we
have and value it.
Aliza is preparing for a trip with
her youth group. Davidi has been busy with teaching a first aid course.
Each night we gather to light the Chanukah candles as we watch the
holiday rush by.
Friday afternoon was disrupted by a
rocket fired from Gaza at southern Israel. The rocket landed in Israel,
but thankfully in an open field with no damages or injury reported. For
weeks, Hamas has been firing rockets into the sea - showing it can fire
at will...a bit of taunting that impresses us not at all.
we thrive in this land. Dafka, we live. Dafka, we make peace come to us
and celebrate. Dafka in a land others think is filled with strife, we
find our greatest peace.
In many ways, we are a dafka people -
we have outlived the Romans, the Greeks, the Babylonians, the Ancient
Egyptians, the Amalekites, the Phoenicians, the Phillistines, the
Canaanites. We survived the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the Pogroms, the
Holocaust...dafka because we would not surrender, dafka because we
celebrate life. Dafka because our greatest strength is the ability to
find peace, even when we are at war.