My 1st War by Ann
In a few days, it will be a year since I made Aliya with my husband and five kids.
Our baby was only three weeks old when we said good-bye to almost 40 years of life in France, to a home that we loved and most of all to our dear family there. It was a real trial to separate from my parents and know that they would no longer be just a 20-minute drive away anymore.
It was hard, but we knew it was the right thing to do. My husband and I believe that a committed Jew, a Jew who really believes in the God of Israel and in the Torah of Israel, should live, if possible, in the Land of Israel. So we went forward, after many many hours on the computer and the phone to organize a place to live and schools for the children and all along the way we felt the loving support of the Almighty when all the doors we knocked on opened wide. Our dream was becoming reality.
Not that we weren’t scared. It is hard to change where you live and habits at this stage of life, and especially with a very, very reluctant teenager who kept repeating that we were making a huge mistake! And with me being pregnant, and concerns that I wouldn’t be able to travel after the birth. And with many people we knew sharing their objections to our sudden decision.
So many what ifs!
But we chose to keep a different set of what-ifs in mind…
What if everything went easily? And what if my delivery was quick, and what if I and baby were in good shape and could travel with no problems? And what if the place awaiting us in Israel was great?
And in the end, our “What ifs” turned into “They weres,” B”H.
Three weeks after the birth of our little daughter we took our luggage and children and with a lot of emotion we landed in Israel and felt as if God had taken us here on His Eagle’s Wings.
And here we are, almost a year later. It’s been a year of change and discoveries. A year of delight every morning over the beautiful landscape we see from our window. A year of seeing our kids learning Hebrew at their own pace and becoming Israeli. A year of enjoying the warmth of the people in our new, small community who invited us into their homes for delicious Shabbos meals.
It’s also been a year of adaptation to so many new things I hadn’t understood or even known existed. I was very dynamic and independent in my ancient life and here I am too scared to drive anywhere past the local supermarket. And it’s been a year of challenge since my father was sick and far away and finally lost the battle against the disease and I had to mourn him far from my mother and siblings.
And all along the way I’ve wondered if I would ever really become part of Israeli society or if I would remain forever a “hutznik,” an eternal outsider.
It’s true, we are all Jewish, but what do I know of the challenges faced by the typical Israeli? What do I have in common with my new sabra friend whose grandmother fought for the country with a rifle in her hands? Or with the Iraqi electrician who arrived here forty years ago with a single suitcase and worked six days a week all year long to support his family?
And then, one morning this past June we learned that three teenagers had been kidnapped not far from where we live and all my concerns about about being an eternal outsider turned out to be completely irrelevant. I prayed and hoped and scrutinized the news along with everyone here. My children’s only concern was the “Hatoufim,” the kidnapped boys, and our days and night were filled with worry for them and their safety.
And then, there was something new. This month we heard our first siren. At that very moment when I heard the first Code Red Siren of my life, I thought “We are here, in Israel.” What we had seen on the news is really happening, we are under attack.
Like everyone here, I wake up with the war and I (try to) go to sleep with it. Many of my oldest daughter’s schoolmates have a brother in Gaza as well as my neighbors’ sons. They have not spoken to them for days and I shudder to think of what they are going through.
Nevertheless, and in spite of the huge threat upon our heads, the scary news and the hateful people living all around us, we have to keep going. We have to cook and clean our homes. We have to make summer vacation as enjoyable as ever and live our life as if everything is normal when everything is, in fact, upside down and crazy. And most of all, we need to focus on God’s miracles that we see everyday, when the breaking news announces, yet again: “Missile attack on Beer Sheva, the rockets fell in open area.”
This is Israel and now I feel completely part of it.
Even if I don’t speak perfect Hebrew and very often I don’t understand what people are saying to me, and even if my children weren’t born here and often long for a good French pastry, now the challenges as well as the beauty of Israeli life are ours.
We too shed tears for the fallen soldiers. We too hide in the reinforced room when there is an alert. We too send items to the soldiers and try to encourage the parents we know with sons at the front.
And I can picture myself a few years from now when my sons will also serve and defend the land of Israel, their land. I pray that Hashem will bless me with the emuna that every parent needs when a son finishes school and he must serve to defend our beloved country, Israel.
And more than anything else, I pray that this will be my first as well as my last war.