Update from Jerusalem

I am sure you have all heard the news, read the multiple emails from UJA and JCCA, there are no words to describe the events and emotions of this past week. We are thankfully physically safe, our shelter is stocked with 3 days worth of food and water as advised, but we are emotionally exhausted. The kids are home, the shelves in the stores are empty. the streets, parks and malls are eerily quiet, you don’t even hear cars honking which is very unusual here. 

Times are tense, people are scared and everyone is worried for their family members, neighbors and friends. Unfortunately we started the week with some devastating news from my husband Gideon’s family, who live a mile from the border with Gaza. One of his relatives was murdered leaving two young children to grow up without a mother. The children were miraculously saved and found near the Gaza border by security forces. Like other Israelis this hit close to home.

As the week unraveled, you realize that in this country everything feels personal and familial. Last night I attended the funeral procession of 2 brothers, sons of a local Rabbi of our community as they were taken to Har Hertzel (the military cemetery in Jerusalem). There are no words to describe the scene of an entire community with flags and banners that came out to mourn our heroes. As I walked hugging my sister on one side and my friend on the other, I knew we all had the same thought. This needs to end for the sake of all those seeking peace and soon. All of us silently hoping that this happens before our sons get their “Tzav Rishon” (First draft notice) which for us is next year. 

We spent this week like many other families in this country, trying to help in whatever way we can. We bought supplies for our troops, my older boys went to help load boxes of food, water and supplies to be shipped down to the front lines. We wrote letters of support and love to our soldiers and right now my children and husband are all sitting tying tzizit for our troops (the 4 corner garment with strings that represent the awareness and responsibility to God). At times of war, most of the soldiers from the entire spectrum, observant or not, insist on wearing them, kind of like a spiritual bullet proof vest. 

Through this traumatic week, we realize that we are part of a nation who cares, loves, and helps one another. Thank you for all the love, support and prayers this week. Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom. I know we will all hug our loved ones a little tighter tonight as we hope for a better tomorrow.

Shabbat Shalom,

Esther Cohen is Riverdale Y’s chief financial officer

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