The short version is the title above. All the rest is commentary, as Rabbi Hillel might say.
Warning: Political opinions ahead.
Today is probably the first time I have had to think about my personal safety in Israel since at least the second Intifada in the early 2000's and possibly even the Gulf War in 1990/91. My brain understands that I am much more likely to be the victim of a violent crime in Oakland than a bomb in Israel, but my heart and stomach are still tied up in knots.
We were actually out to dinner with our friends from the congregation, Gary Sherne and Sandy Frucht, in Tel Aviv tonight, when the wait staff calmly told us to follow them to the "miklat," the bomb shelter nearby. We followed the wait staff to the center of the building where the restaurant was located, away from glass. After about 5 minutes, the all clear was sounded and we went back to the table. After dinner, we drove back to Jerusalem, wondering what we would do if a siren sounded. Would we even hear it? We decided we would do whatever the other cars on the road were doing. The drive was uneventful, except that every time the GPS would act up, we were just a bit more nervous than usual that we might get lost.
What is most unusual about this particular time is that bombs have never really reached Jerusalem or Tel Aviv before. When Hamas bombs Sderot or Ashkelon, it hardly makes the news. But Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are different. As thankful as we are for the quiet times of the last two years, Hamas has used that very quiet to arm themselves with more sophisticated weaponry. The very same calm that gives us hope creates conditions that make the conflict that much worse when tensions inevitably resume. Thankfully, the Iron Dome is interecepting nearly all of these bombs and not a single Israeli has been killed as of this writing. But again, there goes the brain. Logic only takes us so far when there is a rock in the pit of your stomach.
On the emotional side, I feel a tremendous solidarity with the people of Eretz Yisrael. We are getting a small taste of what it is like for them every day, living with the reality that their civilian population can be deliberately targeted at any time.
It is important for me to add that the retaliatory crime of the Israeli teenagers who murdered Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir was a heinous and horrific crime. It makes me sick to my stomach. My heart goes out to his family. Actually hearing that one of the families of the three Israeli teenagers who was murdered and kidnapped reached out to them was unbelievably heart-warming. I was also proud to hear that Israel had found the suspects and arrested them immediately. There was and is no denial. And yet, the anger I feel that Hamas' reaction was to bomb the heck out of as many Israeli cities as possible is real and raw. And the Israelis are my family. When my brother is attacked, my first reaction is to defend him. Only later can I begin to deal with the more difficult questions that might follow.
For now, I leave us with two prayers.
Baruch Ata Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha'olam, she'g'malani kol tov.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who has delivered me from danger in order to do good.
Baruch Ata Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha'olam, haporeis sukkat shalom aleinu v'al kol amo Yisrael.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, may God spread over us a Sukkah of peace and over all the people Israel.
Rabbi Mark Bloom