Craving Normal

Normal is that status where life just is. Normal is when you don’t hear sirens in your head, listen for ambulances, imagine the phone ringing. When your country is at war, when your son is a soldier, when you have friends and family living in areas where rockets are falling, you crave normal to a level that I doubt most normal people can understand.


There are so many things that aren’t normal about life here. Having a pile of gas masks in a corner of the room isn’t normal. Buying 12 bottles of water to take to your son’s unit isn’t normal and when you end up not delivering them so they are in your house – normal would be to drink them. Not normal is to take six of them and put them in a room that has been specially built to withstand missiles and explosions.

No, having a bomb shelter in your home isn’t normal either.

Normal is a day like today – and they come so rarely here. The sun is shining. The sweet challah dough is rising on the counter. I made a blueberry pie and soon I’ll be making a spinach/broccoli casserole and a carrot casserole. That’s normal. The soup is boiling on the stove and the house is filled with the scent of that and the finished chicken cooling on the table.


Tonight my daughter and her husband and baby will be staying over – Elie and Lauren will come over, along with Lauren’s cousin, who is a soldier. Technically, he’s a lone soldier because his parents live in the States, but he’s got Lauren, who is as close as any sister could be; he’s got an adopted family near Jerusalem, another nearer to the center of the company.

Davidi is home this weekend, though right now he’s taking a shift on the ambulance squad. Chanukah is coming Saturday night – we’ll light the first candle.

I’ll make the potato pancakes my mother-in-law taught me to make. We’ll sit around and talk and be a family and somewhere in all that normal, I’ll push away the thought that we have to work so hard to reach normal, it just isn’t normal.

Aliza told me that when the siren went off, she cried. The children went running to shelter and she was frightened. I don’t remember what we were talking about, why she mentioned it but we all have this poison inside ourselves that we have to release.

On Sunday, I’m going with a group of women to Netivot. It’s a closed group from all over Israel and we share our mornings and our thoughts and meet a few times a year. I missed the last meeting, decided I really wanted to go to this one and so we are stealing a day and traveling to Netivot, so close to Gaza. There, we’ll go shopping to help the local community.

I don’t know what I’ll buy – I don’t usually go shopping on Sundays…I’ll find something. I’ll go there to that beautiful city and I’ll buy something and most of all, I’ll crave normal. I won’t listen for a siren or an announcement that there’s an incoming missile.

It’s too soon, anyway. The Arabs still have what to get from this short period of quiet. They are sitting back and letting the world condemn Israel for whatever the latest complaint is about. That’s okay – that’s kind of normal too. What would a week be without some nation somewhere finding fault in what we do – ignoring all that others do?

Syria is about to fire chemical weapons at its own people; Egypt is hounding demonstrators in the street. There is unease in so many places – perhaps, perhaps I’m wrong and Israel is the most normal country in the world.

At least we find islands of peace each week; at least we find ways to simulate normal. Yes, I have a bomb shelter in my house – but it’s also got a bed in there and an extra freezer, some bookshelves, tons of books. It looks like a normal room – it’s even painted pink. The only sign that it isn’t a normal room comes from the door as you enter, and the second metal window outside.

I haven’t managed to open the metal yet. Elie and his father quickly ran to slam it closed when the first siren went off and it has been closed since then. Maybe I’ll know normal is back when one of us opens those metal shutters?

Tonight, I’ll light the Shabbat candles; tomorrow we’ll begin lighting the Chanukah candles. I guess that is the normal that is Israel.

Shabbat shalom.

6 Comments on Craving Normal

  1. The Jewish people have never known “normal.”

    Their ancestors could have adopted Greek culture and the gods from Olympus. They decided it wasn’t for them – they valued their faith, their land and their freedom more than playing “it safe.”

    The story of Hanukkah is about guts and glory and being willing to die for what matters. Israel’s enemies think Israel has lost that spirit. I think its still alive and well, the traitors and destroyers in Israel’s own midst notwithstanding.

    If Israel was “normal” there would be no reason for the Jewish people to exist. If a Jew wants normal – he can live in another country and convert to another religion. This is not possible in Israel and its the only thing that keeps the Jews, unlike other nations, from ever committing national suicide.

    Shabbat Shalom.

  2. From my point of view in the US:

    I don’t recognize my country, not in the twisted-mirror of the mainstream news or media; they are only selling fairy tales. In a way, that’s ‘normal’.

    The President of this nation and both political parties are currently engaged in active treason in the wanton destruction of the monetary system, ceding sovereignty to the UN, ignoring the people, betraying our allies, arming the terrorists… I feel like I am in some reverse reality, and I’m the only one who knows it. Most of my neighbors feel the same, we’re all looking around saying the same things: “What happened? Is this really happening?” is that normal?

    The plight of Israel strains our hearts; ringed by nations who demand its destruction and the genocide of its people.

    Our prayers are with you. Our support is with you, and even if our government doesn’t admit it. We’ve got our own problems here to clean up first, but we do and will stand with you.

    May God bless you with peace and prosperity, and may you be blessed with the strength of His arm.

    I enjoy your blog. Don’t quit.

  3. Beautiful post, Paula. Thanks for these. Can I say that, for those of us who love Israel but live far away, posts like this are things we really draw moral strength from when we argue unendingly, as we feel we have to, against those who support the ones who would destroy you.

  4. That was a nice post Paula, Shabbat Shalom and happy hanuka, it reminds me a of a lovely hannuka celebration I spent with friends in California years ago, I think many Jews can practise their faith in peace all over the world nowadays, happy hanukka to all of them.

  5. I echo what Rob said…your posts are an oasis in the desert of uninformed and biased media reports…from you we get the truth, and so beautifully shared with us from the land we all love. Thank you, and HAPPY CHANUKAH to you and your family, Jan

  6. Thank you eveeryone. Such lovely comments – thank you.

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