Sirens Wailing in a Jerusalem Kitchen

This is the first of at least two articles from Israel by Rabbi Yosi Gordon.  He is a teacher at the Talmud Torah of St. Paul, currently studying at the Shalom Hartman Institute and elsewhere in Jerusalem.  This article was originally posted to Facebook.

israeli flagsI was finishing dinner in Tmol Shilshom in downtown J’lem when the siren went off. Within 10 seconds or so, we were all in the kitchen. After about 10 minutes, we heard via private phone calls that the rocket had landed somewhere in the Jerusalem area. We paid and left the restaurant. My friends drove me home and left to check on children and grandchildren.

The last time a siren sounded here was once during the Gulf War, as they remember. This is the first time a rocket has landed here. I have a protected room off my bedroom, and there is a shelter in the Hartman Institute, where I’ll be learning tomorrow. I am calm and confident that Israel will do its best to protect all of us.

These are terrible times, and things seem to be getting worse. Hamas is making decisions I don’t understand, and Israel will have to respond in ways that provide the best security for all its citizens and residents. I have no idea what that involves. There are thousands of facts and factors that I know nothing about. I’ll let the government and the army decide, and then offer a sage critique of all they do and all they don’t. It’s the Jewish way.

I grieve that Palestinian non-combatants will be casualties of the fighting. I grieve for the families of the Palestinian combatants. I know that these battles will solve nothing. There will be fighting; the rockets will stop; they will start again; and there will be fighting. I don’t think there is anything Israel or Hamas can do to change that course of events. I certainly don’t think there is anything the U.S. can do; John Kerry proved that rather convincingly.

We are living in a time when Israel is Sisyphus and Palestine is the rock. Or vice versa. I hope the rocketing and fighting stop soon, so we can return to the quieter cycle of our war. In the meantime, in Jerusalem and elsewhere, we are all careful where we go and where we don’t go. The light rail stops at French Hill because the stations beyond it have been destroyed by Palestinian rioters. That means that Shuafat and beyond get no service. Whenever the violence stops, Jerusalem might rebuild. I have no idea when that would be. It could be days or years.

All in all, Israel has to act with the perfect balance of power and restraint, protect its people, avoid collateral damage, and keep the world from hating us even more. A group of us visited the Abu Khdier family to pay respects this afternoon after the horrible murder of their son Muhammed. I had a class, so I couldn’t go. It was a good gesture. Maybe a few million more such acts of good will and respect will bring peace closer. It’s definitely worth a try.

(Photo: zeeveez)