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Reflections from Our BDJ Members in Israel #2

12/28/2023 03:36:58 PM


Sari Abrams

What has struck me in these past few days that I’ve been in Israel is how things can feel normal and anything but normal simultaneously. From the moment I stepped into Ben Gurion Airport, greeted by large photos of the hostages and an empty arrivals hall, I felt a rush of intense despair and hope - swirling and conflicting emotions.

There is a lot that feels “normal” - the crowded train, the bustling streets and shopping areas, a family outing with my son and grandson and my sister, her daughter and her grandson to “Tiny Town.” But there were also the conversations my son and his cousin were having, in the area set up to look like a store, and the area set up to look like a hair salon, about where they each were on October 7, what they did when the sirens sounded, how to manage taking care of a toddler when daycares are closed and your boss wants you to get your work done anyway, all while feeling anxious about when the next siren might sound, where the next rocket might fall. 

Since October 7, I have experienced a strong need to understand and feel what individuals here have experienced. Back in the States I have listened to and read stories about victims and survivors of the terror. Here in Israel I spent the day in Tel Aviv - first with our friend Sharon Merkin at “Kikar HaChatufim” (Hostage Square). Everywhere I looked there were stark, powerful reminders of the terrible and seemingly hopeless plight of the hostages: the huge screen displaying the number of days, hours, minutes and seconds that they have been in captivity; the enormous Shabbat Table set for them, the “Path of Hope” designed to look like the yellow brick road, symbolizing the path to return home, the tent set up as a place of prayer, the large magen david, half bare and half covered with flowers. And most powerful was the conversation we had with a gentleman whose cousin was at the Nova festival and is presumed to have been taken captive to Gaza - this is a man who has not left the site, sleeping in a tent at night so that he can make sure that his cousin and all the others are not forgotten.

I also went to the Nova Exhibit in the Expo Conference Center in Tel Aviv. The exhibit serves as a powerful, and moving recreation of the scene of the Music Festival that ended in such horror and tragedy. There are photos of the victims and personal messages written by their friends, and by complete strangers, everywhere. On one side of the exhibit there are the porta-potties riddled with bullet holes, and a pile of the burned out cars from the festival - which evoke the utter horror and terror that was unleashed. On the other side, under a huge sign reading “We Will Dance Again,” there are displayed photos and descriptions of the survivors’ gatherings, artwork they have produced since October 7 and the strong message that what bound together the “Nova Tribe” was not destroyed by the terrorists. 

Horror, terror, despair – hope, resilience, heart. It is all here.

Mon, June 17 2024 11 Sivan 5784