I'm used to questions like - aren't you afraid? Do you think there will ever be peace? Don't you think, if you gave them
I've been asked these questions before, have answers for each.
Aren't you afraid? No, really no. Not for a minute do I fear the present or the future. Sure, I was a basket case, terrified to the core, when Elie was in first Cast Lead and then Operation Pillar of Defense. Sometimes, I'm nervous about going on the train or driving a particular road - this past month, as we drove down to Eilat, I was worried that there would be a rocket attack. But there are worries and concerns, and then there is fear. I have the world's greatest imagination when it comes to thinking of all the bad things that can happen. I am a firm believer that if I think of something bad, God won't let it happen because He's not going to have me go around and say, "I knew it!" So, He'll think of something else and my job is to try the impossible, to out-think God. The tsunami, a meter of snow in Jerusalem, 9/11 - I never thought of those...but mundane things like car accidents, rocket attacks, throwing rocks at the train, kids forgetting to bring sweaters and freezing to death in July - I've got those covered. I lived in America for the first 30 plus years of my life and I was often afraid - afraid of the night, of being attacked as a woman. I was afraid someone would take my children...terrified silly of anyone who looked at them too long. A man once saw Amira bundled in my arms and asked me if I wanted to sell her and I almost panicked. I grabbed her more tightly to me, said no, and rushed away. He must have thought I was insane. Those same words have been said to me half a dozen times, at least, in Israel and each time I smiled and said, "sure, how much?" When I left America, I left behind the fear of the night. I can walk here safely at 2:00 in the morning; I can go shopping or begin my day at 4:00 in the morning in complete darkness and have no fear. No, I am not afraid to live in this amazing country, to travel its roads, speak to total strangers on the street.
Do you think there will ever be peace? No. I'm almost tempted to just leave that one word as the answer to that question and move to the next. I want peace, I dream of peace, I yearn for peace more than you can imagine. I said I wasn't afraid - but I am afraid of when David goes into the army, when Elie and Shmulik next do reserve duty. We are engaged in a battle of cultures, even of religion. Islam may be called (or call itself) the religion of peace but in reality, it is a religion that does not allow compromise, negotiation. To them, that is equivalent to weakness, to surrender. They will not compromise; they will not say, okay, you take this and we'll take that. What they will say is, okay, we'll take this now. We'll give you a hudna (a temporary
Don't you think, if you gave them
Do you really think this is the best place to raise your children? That's the easiest question to answer. This is the best place to raise my children; this is the only place to raise my children. My children, the five I have birthed, the three that have married and become mine, the two that I have adopted (and their two sisters which I kind of adopted too) are all proud, strong Jews who love this land. They speak the language of their forefathers; walk proud and tall and strong. They know nothing of cowering before those who hate us; they know nothing of a culture that encourages them to hide who and what they are. They are irrevocably and entirely Israeli and Jewish - and it is very doubtful they could be this way if they did not live here. They value what is meant to be valued in life and walk in a land that is theirs - by right, by might, by history, by divine promise.
And so we come to the question I was recently asked, the one that surprised me. Don't you miss America? Like some of the questions above, there is a simple answer and a more complex one. The simplest answer is no. I could leave it at that. But I'll say something else. The United States saved the lives of my grandparents - like so much of their family, they probably would have died in Europe if they and their parents didn't have the foresight to leave Europe. The United States gave them, gave me, a love of democracy and freedom. What it didn't give my extended family is what I have given my children by bringing them here. America is the great melting pot...but in melting, there is a loss. Perhaps for some, the loss is outweighed by the gain. Jews came to America with a history thousands of years old. America in its greatness, made it very easy, too easy. for hundreds of thousands of Jews to walk away from that richness. That loss is more tragic than I can explain and so no, I don't miss America because living there could have cost me the souls of my children, their future.
I never walked on American soil and said - this is mine in the same way I say it here. When I practiced my religion, it was on the sidelines, time stolen from school or work that had to be excused or made up. Here, every holiday is a national one; every Shabbat, the Sabbath for all. While the army in the United States did holy work, defending America's interests abroad, it was on distant shores and for causes that were honorable but had little impact.
If Vietnam fell (as it did) or not, my life in America was not going to change. If the Iraqis were saved from Saddam Hussein or not, life for Americans was not going to be different. By contrast, each and every war we fight here is a direct defense of our homes. Rockets were fired at my home while Elie was on the border defending Israel. His friends and fellow soldiers knew that the rockets that flew over their heads were aimed at cities where they live, places they have been.
I don't miss living in America because in a very real sense, I always felt that I was a stranger living there as a gift, a visitor who needed sanctuary. Only, since 1948, long after my grandparents had moved to America, I didn't need that sanctuary anymore and so I came home.
Home to Israel, where I raise my Israeli children to help others, welcome strangers into our home, and as a nation, offer assistance to others. The concept is called "pay forward.' What was done for the Jews who needed a place to which they could flee Europe's growing anti-semitism, is now paid back, by paying forward this gift to others. Now only have we opened our doors to hundreds of thousands of Jews who fled Europe, Arab countries, Ethiopia and Russia, and now France, the UK and other places, we opened our doors to refugees from Vietnam and Sudan and more. We fly across the world to help others after the tsunami, earthquakes and more.
I came home to Israel...so that this would always be the home of my children.