(Photo by: The Times of Israel)
Our downstairs neighbors are Israeli citizens who have been living and working in New York City for a few years. They are the parents of two adorable children a four-year-old girl and a thirteen-month-old boy. My husband and I are their honorary upstairs grandparents. We recently shared a holiday celebration in our Sukkah on September 30 because they are part of our “chosen” family and their families live far away in Israel.
On Sunday afternoon our neighbor called to ask me and Jacob for our support. On Monday night he’s flying to Israel because he volunteered to serve in the IDF to defend his homeland. Each week after lighting Shabbat candles parents bless their children by placing their hands on their heads and giving them a blessing that is thousands of years old. We assured him that we would be there for his wife and young children. Then we asked if we could come downstairs to give him a blessing. He told us he’d be on a three-week tour of duty. Jacob and I are figuring out how to help support his family by walking the dog and having his wife and children join us for meals, especially Shabbat dinners so they will not be alone. After giving him the blessing in the hallway outside of his apartment, we both embraced him. I was happy that Jacob and I were able to hold off our tears until we stepped into the elevator where he could not hear my sobbing.
This is an existential time in Jewish history: defending the right for Israel to exist as terrorists want to wipe all Israelis off the face of the Earth. I wonder how our neighbor and thousands of other IDF soldiers and reservists said goodbye to their families, not knowing if they will ever see them again. I don’t want innocent civilians on either side to die. It is infuriating that the terrorists are using their own people as human shields, something they’ve done for years. This war is not going to be over in a few days. Until Hamas is destroyed no one in Israel or Gaza will be able to live in peace.