With the wave of terror that has been plaguing Israel lately, I had to think twice about going to a bar mitzvah celebration last week. The ceremony was scheduled to take place at the Western Wall near the Temple Mount in the old city of Jerusalem. Earlier that week several terrorist incidents had occurred in the vicinity.
As a mother, I had to think: Was it safe to attend the celebration with my two sons who were also invited? If we chose not to go, what message would that send to my children? If we did attend, was I being an irresponsible parent? If we didn’t go, was I succumbing to terrorism?
Ultimately, my husband and I chose to go. I went for my children, to show them that we choose faith over fear. I went for myself to demonstrate my own courage and trust in God. I went for my ancestors who dreamt of the day that Jews could walk freely in their own homeland. I walked proud and free in Jerusalem to prove that terrorism will never win.
But then this week arrived with a renewed wave a terror; one that threatened to knock our strong nation down. The attacks intensified in frequency and intensity. There was a mass casualty incident where two terrorists boarded a bus and began to stab and shoot the innocent passengers. This occurred just outside my brother-in-law’s apartment in Jerusalem.
The ironic thing is that I was on the phone with my brother-in-law congratulating him on the birth of a baby boy when the sirens started to scream non-stop. Another celebration coupled with fear and intimidation. My brother-in-law felt unsafe leaving his apartment with my four-year-old niece that morning so that she could meet her new brother. Still, life goes on and my brother-in-law visited his wife with great joy later that evening.
Eight days after a Jewish baby boy is born, we have a circumcision ceremony and celebration. My nephew’s Brit Mila is scheduled for early next week. Once again, I have to ask myself: Is it safe to go into Jerusalem next week to celebrate the occasion? Can I bring my children to see their new cousin when life-threatening rock throwing attacks occur on our roads daily?
I don’t know the answers yet to these new questions, but here is what I do know: I should not have to be asking them. I am a Jew. I live in the Jewish homeland. I have a right to live in my country and serve the God of Israel in freedom and safety.
I still believe that terrorism will not triumph. The Jewish people will prevail as we always have. In the meantime, I will continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the time when we will beat our swords into ploughshares, truly living as a people who are safe and free.