December 11, 2019

My Daughter’s Israel

Today my daughter turns two years old. She is a young and innocent child like all of our children. She loves when I pick her up and play superman. She gets excited when Kermit the Frog comes on the TV or iPad. And she eats her vegetables when she knows there is a cookie involved for dessert. She is truly the love of my life; no questions asked she means the world to me. While we are 30 years apart in age, one thing we have in common is that we have never, firsthand, known a world without a Jewish State of Israel. We have both had the luxury of living in a world where Jews have freedom and rights, a world where Israel’s existence is obvious to us and a reality to all.

I have lived a fairly robust Jewish life, one that has led me to the Rabbinate without fear or doubt. My daughter also lives in such a world where she can run up to the Bimah without a care in the world. I have dreams of taking my child to Israel, something I wish I had done already, to experience the ease in which being Jewish can be, the resilience of our people, and to celebrate the raw emotional awe of our homeland. Yet, because of my daughter’s age her Judaism is blind to what is going on in the world right now. As uprisings all over the world are not only continuing but are escalating, I begin to worry, not for my safety but for a world that again turns to hating the Jewish people. How could it be that Berlin, the United States, and France have forgotten the pogroms and the Holocaust? How could it be that any part of the world does not see the need and vitality of a Jewish State? How can people across the world want to hurt the innocent, burn establishments and for one minute think Israel does not have the right to defend itself?

My daughter is turning two and I am afraid. While I am afraid for Israel’s safety, and always will be, that is not my only concern. Today for the first time I am crying while I write because I am afraid that my daughter will live in a world that hates her because she is Jewish. The scary nature of what is the reality of the world right now is beyond comprehension to me. I truly hope my generation of assimilated Jews, who distance themselves from Judaism, ritual, and tradition understands what is happening. The truth is this could easily be a world that is different for our children. When the Nazis knocked on a door they did not ask sect or denomination, they took you because you were a Jew. The chants in Europe are not just about Israel, they are about Jews. The attacks from Hamas are not about protecting Palestinians, they are about killing Jews. The slander in the media is not about the truth, it is about hurting Jews.

I am praying for Israel with every fiber of my being. I am reading and learning about the situation. I am coming together with colleagues and congregants to show solidarity to the State of Israel. But I am now worried for my daughter’s safety as a Jew. An innocent young child who could do no wrong and yet people hate her because of religion. Today we will go shopping for a birth day present. She will smile and I will probably cry because the purity in the world that she sees is not so pure anymore. May the world wake up to realize the terror caused by hatred and disregard for the Jewish people. May America show its allegiance to its sister in the Middle East. May we all be safe from the evil that haunts this world. And may my daughters two feet get to experience the freedom of religion and the holiness that is the Jewish State of Israel.