April 16, 2024

When I was 16, I went to Israel on a six-week trip with 44 other teens from the San Francisco Bay area. It was my first visit to Israel, and the experience impacted me tremendously. It was not until I returned from the trip that I truly understood how my life had changed. You see, the day we landed back at San Francisco International Airport was the same day that Iraq invaded Kuwait. The day was August 2, 1990. I vividly remember following the news, even more keenly aware of the area, when Iraq began its month-long SCUD missile attack on Israel when it fired 42 missiles on January 17, 1991.


I had hoped that something like this would NEVER happen again in my lifetime. And yet, fast forward 33 years later, and Israel was once again under attack, this time by Iran. This time, the numbers are staggering. In less than 12 hours, Iran fired a total of 331 drones, cruise and ballistic missiles. And even more incredible is the success rate of Israel’s defenses. 99% of all projectiles Iran fired at Israel were shot down by the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow Three, the Israeli Air Force, or by the combined international forces of the US, Britain, France, and even Jordan (an Arab nation).


As I watched and listened to the news, I was amazed at how much people marveled at how Israel could defend itself. And my first thought was, “Duh! Israel has had to develop a strong defense system because of the neighborhood they live in.” And my second thought was, “Imagine if they didn’t need to have spent the time, resources, and energy to develop it. How much more could they do?” And lastly, sadly, my thoughts immediately turned to how the world will view Israel if and when it decides to retaliate against Saturday’s attack, and my heart leaped into my throat.


You see, whenever anything happens in or pertains to Israel, my email box, already overflowing with information and requests, gets even fuller. And it feels like an added weight gets placed on our collective shoulders… one more burden we must carry. This, of course, is in addition to the current climate for Jews on local college campuses and the city leaders who continue to decide that agendizing ceasefire resolutions is productive for their city council meetings.


Saturday’s attack was a wake-up call for many, and I am hopeful that instead of blaming Israel, the world begins to see that the existential threat Israel has been crying out about (and very few nations have listened to ) is real. The question remains… will people view it the same way? Only time will tell.


One final thought… it is during these times that I often think about the following Jewish folktale, which I think is appropriate right now. It is said that King Solomon once searched for a cure against depression. He assembled his wise men together. They meditated for a long time and gave him the following advice: Make yourself a ring and have thereon engraved the words “This too will pass.” The King carried out the advice. He had the ring made and wore it constantly. Every time he felt sad and depressed, he looked at the ring, whereon his mood would change, and he would feel cheerful.


While this teaching doesn’t alleviate all of the hurt, frustration, anger, and helplessness many of us have been feeling these last six months or so. Still, I am hopeful it will give you some comfort and perspective and be a reminder that at some point, hopefully soon, this too shall pass.


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