A Jewish Mother Says: "No Escape, No More to Give"

by Sherri Lederman Mandell

We want to stop listening to the news and watching TV. It is so unbearable that we have reached the point of saturation; no more-no more listening to reports about our children, our soldiers, our husbands, our mothers, our fathers dead, maimed, dying, lost, suffering.

My friend Leah this morning had to pay a mourning visit to a friend whose husband died on Friday. He was on his way from Neve Yaakov, home to Beit Shemesh, and was found in the trunk of his car, dead. It's not clear whether the killing was criminal or terrorist. The astonishing thing is that we talk about this story and feel as though the world is lost. Then, ten minutes later, we're talking about our diets. Everyone I know is on a diet. Why? Because our weight is all we can control.

I am cleaning house, something I generally don't do. Each corner has to be swept, each bed needs to be made. It is a way of feeling that I can cope. My house is clean and in order, so the world is good.

My friend Shira, who is a former SDS member, a feminist and now a therapeutic masseuse, has been reading romance novels, for the first time in her life. She also is decorating the walls of her house with shell sculptures that she fastens with concrete glue. She is busy designing waves and a sun. She is building a life of freedom within the confines of her four walls, the only place she feels safe nowadays.

Suddenly, everyone is home for Independence Day. The only picnic is one that is close by, one that we don't have to drive to with our whole family in the car. We say a special prayer in the synagogue on Friday for Linda and Bobby who were shot at on the tunnel road-shots were fired over their car, the road was closed and they turned around and went back, unhurt.

This is our freedom and independence in our own country. During Holocaust Day, you could hear the sounds of gunfire and tank fire from Gilo and Bethlehem as the prime minister made his speech at Yad Vashem praising Israel as the land where the Jews are free to defend themselves.

On Independence Day, my daughter read the names of twelve people from our area who were killed in the most recent battles. This is not Holocaust Day; this is not some distant battle. This is the battle of today.

We can try to deny it, but we can't escape it: a battle is raging around us. No matter how much we don't want to listen, we lie in bed and hear the shooting.

There is no way not to listen. But what is the message we are supposed to hear? It's not clear anymore. We want peace, but peace is a word that is not the absence of war. Peace has to have value in itself. We have been dreaming about peace. But we have been dreaming with our eyes closed.

Now our eyes are open. We can't escape the sounds of battle. And what is most alarming is this: The battle is a result of giving everything we could. To give more, makes no sense.

From the Washington Post (May 14) via Israel Update,

http://aish.com/jewishissues/