Thursday, July 19, 2012
THIS IS LIFE IN ISRAEL
I remember lying in bed one morning, when my radio alarm went off and hearing the news. it was 1989 and the middle item in the news was that all resident s of the Sharon area i.e. Tel Aviv and its environs, had been given gas masks….and then they went on to the next item.
I turned over …and then suddenly thought……………Is there any other country in the world where distributing gas masks is such a normal idea that it’s just a short item on the news.
And this was two years before the first Gulf War when we all shivered with fright in our sealed rooms, wearing those gas masks as the scuds fell all around us.
I can remember when I had never heard of the name ZAKA. You may not be aware that is the initials of the Hebrew words ‘zihui korbanot ason ‘identifying disaster victims’, but almost everyone all over the world is now familiar with their yellow vests with the English letters on them as their volunteers do their holy work of gathering body parts and scraping blood off any surface in order to give each Jew a proper , complete burial.
No, living in Israel isn’t like living anywhere else i n the world. But then it was never meant to be
All this went through my mind yesterday as the terrible news came though of the terrorist attack in Bulgaria while we were listening for information regarding the funeral of one of our generation’s most important rabbis, Rabbi Elyashiv who had died just a few hours before
How many blows can we take in one day?
But we should be used to it.
I have lived here through all the intifadas. I can remember when I turned on the radio and I’d would listen out to hear what kind of music was being played.
So often in those days the music would be old sad, war songs….and then I knew that another terrorist attack had taken place.
It was such a common occurrence that I consciously listened out for it.
No, life in Israel isn’t ‘normal’ by other country’s standards.
But we didn’t make Aliyah for a normal life.
When I saw the speed at which the whole of Jerusalem closed down and reorganized itself to enable the half a million participants to Rabbi Elyashiv’s funeral to arrive from all over the country, find somewhere to park their buses, take part in the funeral with minimum discomfort on a boiling hot night, with emergency services in place everywhere - I knew why I had made Aliyah.
When I heard how quickly the squad of ZAKA volunteers, doctors, soldiers, rabbis and social workers were gathered and flew off to Bulgaria to take care of our living and our dead – I knew why I made Aliyah.
We are told, ‘Kol Yisrael areivim ze le’ze’ each Jew is responsible for his fellow Jew.
Here in Israel we are privileged see the reality and the fulfillment of this mitzvah.