Are we crazy?
Probably not. I’m not sure. Maybe?
We probably are crazy, but the alternative would be much worse.
This situation with Israel and the terrorists is awful. It’s sad, scary, tragic, unfair, and unnecessary. I’ve explored why it’s happening on my @wccoradio show, why Americans should care, and how peace is possible, but this blog is for the parents. The parents whose kids are in Israel, the parents whose kids are thinking of going, and the parents who think we’re nuts to even consider sending them into danger.
As a practicing, involved, Jewish, American parent I am watching this situation with a knot in the pit of my stomach. My kids are in Israel. (Not my biological ones…yet.) But every child who is there feels like one of mine.
Many Jewish teens travel to Israel for the summer—growing up, I was one of them. We go with our sleep-away camp or another tour. There is a program called Birthright, which offers a free trip to Israel for any young Jewish adult between the ages of 18 and 26. More than 400,000 people from 66 countries have already received the gift of a free trip to Israel through Birthright. Some of these kids are there right now. One of my childhood friends (from sleep-away camp) has her 16-year-old in Jerusalem as I write this. (Juliana is pictured above on a camp trip.) And then come the rockets.
Did you know there is an app you can download to get an alert every time the warning sirens go off in Israel? This is a modern torture device for those concerned about the situation, but it’s a deeper torture if your baby is over there. And no, I did not download the app. Every day, we wait for Facebook status updates about their trip; we search the posted pictures for a glimpse of them; we share like crazy when someone receives an email or call. But yet, we still send them.
The connection between Israel and a Jew cannot be underestimated. I feel it; I know. The pull to be there, to experience Masada, the Dead Sea, the Bedouins, a Kibbutz, the Jerusalem market, the IDF, the Western Wall—I can still feel it. The first time I stood at the Kotel (the Wall), I was overcome with emotion. The gift of connection is so great, it both crushes you with responsibility and fills you with purpose at the same time. You can feel the stones of the Kotel without touching them. The energy emitted by the Wall and its history is a physical bond. I wish that feeling for everyone, Jew or non-Jew. My kids, all of them in Israel, are feeling it right now. And that’s why we send them. To connect. The loss of that connection is a greater threat to Israel than any terrorist rocket.
This fresh violence in Israel is nothing new. When we go, we know anything can happen. When we help our kids pack, we know there is a risk, but still, we send them.
Some of the most anxious helicopter moms I know are the Jewish ones. (Sorry, ladies, you know who you are.) These are the same moms who put their kids on an EL-AL plane last week to David Ben Gurion Airport, praying the Iron Dome holds fast. Are we crazy? I don’t think so. I get it. The Jewish people and our country have been threatened in the past; we are still here. The connection is strong. Israel will never be wiped off the face of the earth, despite terrorist attempts. But if we don’t go, if we don’t send our children to Israel, if we don’t nurture the bond, if we don’t keep the connection, then the terrorists win.
Now that would be crazy.