It’s 8:30 a.m. in Israel and I’m feeling very good. I woke up and made Aliza sandwiches for school, cut up an orange in 8 slices as she likes it, gave in to her request for a small bag of snacks like the ones Elie and Lauren bought for her school trip on Sunday. Elie left early for the last day of a course that will allow him, like Shmulik, to carry a gun while working as a security guard.
Shmulik left for a day of work at the mall, taking Aliza with him. In between making the sandwiches, I’d added warm water to yeast and a bit of sugar. After they left, I added the flour, eggs, oil, honey, and salt – dough for the challah, the sweet, braided bread that will grace our Sabbath table tonight. I cut up the vegetables, added chicken and water and spices – the soup my husband loves. It isn’t Shabbat for him without the soup.
I spiced the chicken, peeled potatoes for the mashed potatoes he loves and the baked potatoes Davidi and Aliza like. Soon, Davidi will come down and help me hand-grate more potatoes. It’s now 8:30 a.m. – and the soup is cooking, the potatoes boiling, the challah rising, the chicken roasting. I’m not done, but it’s a great start for 8:30 in the morning and though I don’t drink coffee, this is my coffee break.
While I was kneading the dough, it is a custom of Jewish women through the centuries to pray that with the work we do, God will bless our families. All that we do for the holy day is considered blessed. We clean our homes and ourselves, we bake our favorite foods, use our best dishes.
We pray for our children – and now a grandson. We pray that our marriage is one of communication and love and yes, we pray for our country. I found myself asking God to give the people in the south a quiet Shabbat and once again the absurdity of the life we live hit home. How absurd to ask for a blessing that people stop shooting rockets at us.
I checked in on the news first thing this morning when I woke up – four rockets last night. Two in Ashkelon (population 112,000); one hit Beersheva (population 187,900) – that’s 300,000 people. People – not soldiers. People – not terrorists like the one Israel’s air-force targeted yesterday.
A BBC breaking news report says Israel hit a Hamas training camp; Gaza propagandists are claiming children were hurt. It begs the question no one will ask – if both are telling the truth (big ifs), why were children on a Hamas training camp?
I don’t know the answer to that question – I only know that this morning as I made the bread for the Sabbath, the calm I hoped to find dissolved a little with the anger. I want to be like most people – I don’t want to have to ask for quiet in the south and rockets to stop falling on Israel.
The house is filling with the smells of Shabbat. Soon, I’ll set the table and wash the floors. Soon, I think, my country will be at war again – to again stop the rockets. We don’t really have a choice – and we won’t have one until the Palestinians choose peace and negotiation over terror and war.
I don’t know if Palestinian children were hurt last night. There are so many lies in what they publicize that it is impossible to know the truth. They’ll come out with pictures – but even the pictures have been lies in the past. Perhaps it’s true – that some stupid father took his children to his training camp. Perhaps one of our missiles took a wrong turn. The inevitable truth that we do not target their children, their civilians will be lost again and the obvious truth that they do nothing but target our children and our civilians will be denied.
The peace for today comes not in the skies over Israel and Gaza, but in my kitchen and the kitchen of thousands of Jewish women who kneaded their dough and asked God to bless this land with peace, with health, with safety.