Miriam Lock, a Fellowship staff member living in Israel, shares her thoughts on the recent terror attacks and explains how she remains peaceful, even with the threat of violence following her and her loved ones every day.
I first visited Israel when I was 17 years old during the summer of 1973. Even though I considered myself an American girl who celebrated Thanksgiving and went to baseball games, and I had grown up in Chicago and attended Jewish day-schools, I believed in my heart that I would one day live in Israel. I knew that Israel was the homeland of the Jewish people and that it was waiting for me.
The chance to return to Israel came because I had joined a religious Zionist youth movement through a program called Bnei Akiva. During the first week of September 1973, I traveled with a group of teens to visit Israel, and I found myself on a kibbutz in the center of Israel; thousands of miles away from my family. I knew little about life on a kibbutz or the reality of Israel. I also knew nothing about war.
This is why I will never forget Yom Kippur on October 6, 1973 as the day I first experienced war in Israel. Typically, Yom Kippur is a day of prayer and fasting, and spent mostly in the synagogue. I remember watching as one by one the men started leaving the kibbutz synagogue. I walked outside and heard a radio. However, the Israeli radio would not broadcast on Yom Kippur unless there was a serious emergency. As I listened, I heard the radio speaker repeating code names of army units. I didn't understand what they were saying and asked someone to explain. "They are calling up reserve units," I was told. "We've been attacked."
This was the beginning of my first experience with war in Israel. Despite the fear, despite the anxiety, despite the terrible news of young soldiers from the kibbutz who were killed, there was a feeling of belonging, of purpose, and of togetherness. Yes, it was a war – with all the horror, pain, and ugliness of war – but it had meaning and purpose. It was a war for the survival of the State of Israel, the Jewish homeland.
A year later, I returned to the U.S. to go to college and exactly ten years after that, in the summer of 1983, I returned with my husband and toddler to make Israel my permanent home.
In the 42 years since the Yom Kippur War, and the 32 years since my aliyah(immigrating to Israel), I have lived through both wars and terror attacks. I thank God my family and I have stayed safe, but people I know have been wounded or killed. I sat with a baby at midnight in a room sealed against missiles, ran into our laundry room at the shrill sound of a siren (our house was not built with a security room), and cried in sorrow and frustration. I have been to funerals of fallen soldiers and victims of terror. But despite what may sound like a very grim reality, the light and hope of living in Israel has always outshone the pain and fear. The positives have always overcome the negatives. The beauty has always been so much greater than the ugliness.
Today is a world of media and never-ending news reports. When a terror attack takes place, if you choose to do so, you can listen to the news, watch the news, and read about the news day and night. You can think about what is happening every second, lay awake at night too troubled to sleep, and curl up like a ball on your kitchen floor and hide.
I know what that is like. I remember the wave of terror attacks in the late 80s, in the 90s, and in the early 2000s. But through it all, we continue to fight for our survival and peace in Israel.
I learned a long time ago that watching too much TV or reading too many articles only brings fear, stress, and despair. So I made a conscious decision to cut my TV news and article-reading time down to as little as possible. Sure, I stay aware and informed. Of course I thought about the possibility of a knife-yielding Arab sneaking up behind me as I waited for a bus last night. I am careful when walking down the street. But at the same time, I work hard to live my life and fill my mind and heart with peaceful thoughts. This is my answer to war and my answer to terror attacks. Always be careful, be informed, and be smart about what you do and where you go. But then focus on something else. Focus on everything that is good in Israel, on the people you love, and on making the world a better place. The people who want to destroy Israel would like us to give up, but we will remain strong. Despite all the terror, the people of Israel will stick together and pray for peace.