LIFE ISN'T ABOUT STAYING ALIVE
by Rabbi Daniel Gordis
"How will you feel if one of those suicide bombers kills your child when you could have avoided it by moving back to the States?  Doesn't your family come first?"

I didn't answer that e-mail until today, because I didn't really know where to begin.  Now I can clarify why we're not killing our children, but giving them something to live for.

On the day of the attack in Mombasa, the newscasters spoke on cellphones to Israelis who were actually at the site.  When one woman was asked what she expected would happen next, she said, "I assume Israel will send doctors, medicine, and soldiers, and then they'll bring us home."  And she was right.  The news immediately cut to an airfield, where five IAF planes were being loaded with the medical equipment and personnel, and shortly thereafter, the planes and their cargoes were on their way.

Muslim terrorism isn't about settlements, or the "occupation," but about Israel itself and about Israelis and Jews wherever they may be.  (Truthfully, it's about Western Civilization, which the Jews for some reason are seen to represent.)  And when Jews end up butchered in Mombasa, they know one thing:  Israel will not allow them to be stranded.  It'll get there.  And it'll bring
whatever's left of them home.

Then we heard about the two-shoulder-mounted missiles fired at the Arkia jet carrying 271 passengers.  As the plane prepared to land, IAF F-16's were flanking the jet, making sure that it hadn't been damaged and was safe to land.  As the plane landed, a video caught the clapping and spontaneous singing of "Hevenu Shalom Alechem," an ald Israeli homecoming song that no one on that plane had sung for decades.  But there was no reason to be embarrassed by the kitsch.  Six decades ago, when people fired at Jews across the world, there was no one willing to do anything.

The F-16's outside the window showed our children that we've brought them to the only place on the planet where Jews can take care of themselves.

Even on dark days, when everyone is recovering from one bit of news only to hear another, this place pulses with hope.  Those doctors flying to Mombasa and the F-16's shadowing the 757 making its way home are what this place is all about.  It's home. 
And with all its faults, and there are many, it's a dream come true.

Our kids have learned that life isn't about staying alive.  It's about believing in something that matters while you're alive.  Our
family does come first.  And that's why we're here.  To raise our kids in a place that's all about them, about their history, their future, their sense of being at home.  To live in a place that matters very much.

Not because we're heroes, for we're not.  But because we know just a bit about Jewish history; and because we have no right to expect other Israelis to "fight the good fight" if we're not willing to.

It's a crazy, dangerous place, this neighborhood of ours, but it's home.  And it's a miracle.  It really is.  And from that, you just
don't walk away.
The author, Rabbi Daniel Gordis, is director of the Jerusalem Fellows Program at The Mandel School for Educational and Social Leadership.
http://www.danielgordis.org
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