How are you? It’s a loaded question for a lot of us right now.
For many of us, it’s followed by ‘is your family in Israel safe?’ and ‘is anyone on the frontlines?’
Our lives are loaded right now.
While we may be managing the day-to-day, going to work, dropping kids off, and cooking dinner, many of us are struggling with the heaviness of war.
It’s a war that is physically far away yet its effect ricochets through the world.
Even all the way here in Australia.
It’s a war that has resulted in extra security at our institutions.
Each day when I drop my children to school, a security guard escorts children and teachers who need to cross the road.
The other day, my three-year-old told me he wants it to go back to normal. Later that same day, he asked me when the police van would be leaving. He usually loves emergency vehicles, but in some way, I think he understands that this police van is different. It’s there for a personal reason. It’s not abstract. It’s not sirens in the distance. It’s police officers patrolling the area around his school.
Last week, I went to my older son’s sports carnival.
The kids took to a single field to compete against each other in sack races, tug of war and fun relay races. They were, thank goodness, oblivious to the security guards encircling the field, eyes focused outwards looking for suspicious activity. Oblivious to the guard over the hill and the one under the tree.
But the parents could see them. And with each glance, our collective hearts sunk. Because with each glance we were reminded that the safety of our children was potentially at risk. Even all the way over here in Australia.
Yet, we were there, and we stood proud.
Our children wore their uniforms, and we stood on the sidelines encouraging them to run faster, jump higher. Yelling their names and watching their smiling faces. Some parents even challenged the kids to tug of war themselves.
Our children are noticing the upgraded security, but we are shielding them from the fear simply by showing up. By walking to school, by attending solidarity rallies and challah bakes, and by wearing our Magen Davids outside our shirts.
By showing our pride, we are showing them that they must be proud too. They mustn’t fear. Because we are strong.
As I say to my young children all the time, Israel has one of the most powerful armies in the world. Israelis are flocking home to put their uniforms on, volunteer on the kibbutzim, make meals for soldiers. Israel’s population has grown over the past four weeks because Israelis from all over the world are desperate to do their part for their homeland.
But more than the army and the volunteers, Israel has love on her side.
Israel has the whole of Am Yisrael on her side, no matter where we live in the world.
Our children must be proud of their Jewish identity; of saying, ‘I am Jewish, hear me roar’.
Because their voices are the ones that we fight for.
Jessica Abelsohn is the arts & lifestyle editor of The AJN.