Israel on the Sound: Perspectives of a homesick Israeli
How does a college student in New York concentrate on her studies while her family and country are under attack? Former Seattleite Carol Jacobson shares her very personal perspective.
It has become a cycle; My internal alarm goes off at 5 AM, roll over, refresh my twitter feed, half-register the locations that the latest barrage of rockets have been sent to, and roll back over back into sleep. 6 AM, it happens again, and at 7, my alarm goes off, and I silence it to see what’s changed in the last 57 minutes. Out of bed, brush my teeth, and make a quick stop back in my room to check the news again before I go make breakfast. Standing in line at Starbucks, I skim the front page of the Times and the WSJ, not looking for new information, rather to see what is today’s perverse Gaza-sympathetic headline. Getting on the subway prompts fresh anxiety, knowing I’m about to go 35 minutes underground, which means without news. Getting to school, I take my seat, pull out my computer, and poise myself to take notes on whatever the professor’s about to say, in the back of my head knowing I’ll register about a quarter of her words.
Getting on the subway prompts fresh anxiety, knowing I’m about to go 35 minutes underground, which means 35 minutes without news.
Here’s what my classroom looks like: there’s a girl drinking a coffee and playing candy crush on her phone in front of me. To my right, a girl draws on her arms, presumably tracing ideas for her next set of elaborate tattoos. On my left, an older man listens intently, asking questions when appropriate. And then there’s the rest of the class, Jews of many backgrounds, sharing a common obsession this summer, and I assure you, it’s not doing well in Experimental Psych. At least five computers in my eyeshot spend the majority of our four hour class sessions scouring news sites, clicking for their new tweets on twitter, and watching every video posted on their Facebook news feeds. We’re all here for one purpose, yet our minds are all so occupied on an entirely different one.
There have been countless heart wrenching moments for me in the past three weeks.
What I find the most interesting in all of this, as well as the most troubling, is the concept of relief. There have been countless heart wrenching moments for me in the past three weeks; the moment I heard the bodies of Gilad, Naftali and Eyal were found; the first time there were sirens in Ra’anana, where my family lives; the first Israeli soldier’s death, and every one since then. At those moments, I felt the pain throughout my entire body. Shock, horror and sadness shook me to the core. But scarier even, is how I feel now, after nearly three weeks, with the realization that these are now things that I have grown accustomed to.
When I see “Sirens Ra’anana”, I still flinch. When I get a text from my mom saying all’s ok though, I go on with my day. When I see “three more soldiers killed”, I tense up. When I see names that (thank God) I don’t recognize, I go back to writing my paper, or eating my lunch. The worst perhaps, is how I feel when I skip over the notifications of sirens in the south in the middle of the night, during my hourly news checks. I ache with the guilt of this reality, with this status quo that I am SO seemingly ok with. How has it come to the fact that I am sighing with relief at the death of a soldier because I do not recognize his name. There have been countless heart wrenching moments for me in the past three weeks – MY brother, who died defending our nation, our people?
Right now, terror is upon us, at every minute and every second of the day.
I continue to grapple with this pain every day, and it has taken a toll. I wish that there was a simple solution, but I also know there is not. Right now, this is the reality we are faced with. Right now, terror is upon us, at every minute and every second of the day. Being that I cannot change that reality with my physical actions, I resort to all I have left: my emotional ones.
We are currently in the period of the three weeks. During this time many years ago, Am Yisrael suffered immensely, only to lead up to the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash. We learn that this suffering and destruction is largely attributed to the Sinat Chinam (baseless hatred) with which the nation treated each other. It was an emotional facet that led to ultimate pain. I think about this, and relate it to what we are experiencing now: A physical battle that’s being fought not for something material, but because of emotional differences. Can I resolve the differences between Palestinians and Jews that is so deep rooted in history? Of course not. But there is an emotional battle that I can fight myself. The one that was the very bane of our existence during the period before the destruction of Beit Hamikdash. I can be more careful in the way I interact with my friends, family, and peers. It’s not a large role, but it’s an important one. I hope that I along with everyone else can use this as a call for the same: To just be more careful about the way we treat each other, offering Ahavat Chinam (baseless love), all the while keeping in mind the zechut of our mitzvot to the people living in Israel under fire, the chayalim fighting the physical battle in Gaza, and ultimately, the culmination of all of this, in the coming of Mashiach Bimhaeira Biyameinu.
Carol Jacobson is a native Seattleite and is a graduate of the Northwest Yeshiva High School. She made Aliyah with her family in 2010. She began her studies at Bar Ilan University in 2011 and is currently studying at Stern College in New York where she is completing her degree in psychology. Carole enjoys cooking, writing, sports, friends and of course Starbucks. When not away at college she resides with her three sisters and two parents in Ra’anana, Israel.