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Healing the Scars of War

Portrait of Yael Eckstein

September 11, 2014


After spending six weeks in America during Operation Protective Edge, my family and I returned home to Israel just four days after the ceasefire with Hamas was announced. “Don’t worry, we’ll be returning to quiet instead of war,” I assured my anxious children as we got on the plane. “There won’t be any more rockets, sirens, or terror, thank God,” I said to my worried sisters as I kissed them goodbye in New York.

It felt good to come home to peace.

And since we returned one week ago, indeed there have been no code red sirens or rocket attacks. But as with any war, I have come to see that here in the Holy Land, after seven weeks of fighting the rockets have halted, but the battle still is raging.

People are still scared and traumatized. The memories and consequences of war still dictate all their thoughts and actions.

Over the weekend, there was perfect weather and all I wanted to do was to take my children to the beach, but we couldn’t find any friends to come with us. “My kids still won’t go to any place that doesn’t have a bomb shelter nearby,” my friends all said. “Beach dates will need to wait until next summer, when hopefully our children will be less scared,” they told me.

I have quickly learned that although the air raid sirens are currently quiet, their high-pitched shriek is still blaring in everyone’s minds.

When I went to pick up my 2-year-old daughter from day care on our second day back, I greeted the fellow mothers with a big smile. “Welcome back!” they all said to me. “It’s good to come home to peace,” I said joyfully, and many of them simply gave me a stone-faced nod of agreement.

It was only later that I learned that three out of five children in my daughter’s day care class had fathers who spent at least some of the summer fighting in Gaza and are still on standby in case the fighting resumes.

Only after I returned home did I learn that Liron, one of the mothers with whom I was speaking, has a brother-in-law who is now in a coma after he was shot in the head by terrorists while fighting in Gaza.

Liron’s sister lives in northern Israel and has three young children; her husband is now fighting for his life at a hospital near the Gaza Strip in southern Israel, nearly a three-hour drive from their home. Liron is caring for her own two children, working, helping her sister with transportation to visit her husband, and caring for her nieces and nephews.

For Liron – along with the many families that lost loved ones during the war and nearly all Israelis who spent their summer in a bomb shelter – the scars of war are still wide open.

And that is why, thank God, The Fellowship is still on the ground, operating around the clock to meet the many needs that have come out of this summer’s war. From helping soldiers to caring for the traumatized elderly, The Fellowship – together with our Jewish and Christian friends– is continuing to come up with new, innovative, and strategic projects to help the weakest people of Israel, who are suffering at this very moment.

When the rockets stopped falling, the needs did not disappear, and therefore The Fellowship’s emergency work has continued. This sends a strong and godly message to the Jewish people in the Holy Land: Christian friends of Israel around the world will never abandon us and will stand unified by our sides during times of war and peace alike. And this important message will stay in the Jewish people’s hearts long after the scars of war have healed.

With blessings from the Holy Land,


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