I've been sick again for a while. Another common cold.
(Didn't we agree that cancer patients should be spared the common cold??)
This time, I knew the cold would hang around for a while -- weakened immune system, and all that. So I decided to spend the entire day in bed.
At 5:00, I called Moshe, to tell him that I was too sick to go to the demonstration (more about that below). Unfortunately, he informed me, he needed to work late and would have to miss the demonstration. OK, I answered, I guess we'll just have to miss this one.
But, as I headed back to bed, I just didn't feel right. For years, I dragged my kids to demonstrations around the country. Now, with the demonstration just outside my doorstep, I wouldn't go?
I found my thickest wool sweater. I dug out my ear-muffs and woolen gloves.
OK kids, I called, get dressed in warm clothes.
With my mother admonishing me in the background ("I don't think you should go"), I led everyone, including my mom, out the door.
There were about 2,000 people there, according to the news (so there were probably around twice that). People were continuously coming and going.
Jerusalem is under attack. US President George W. Bush is arriving in Israel tomorrow. His government is calling on Israel to stop construction in Homat Shmuel (aka Har Homa), a relatively new neighborhood in the south-east corner of Jerusalem. Homat Shmuel is adjacent to Talpiot, Gilo, Ramat Rachel, and the Judean dessert. It is a mixed neighborhood, with religious and non-religious living side by side.
Homat Shmuel is also my home.
Moshe and I had always dreamed of making our home in a yishuv (Jewish settlement). But, after years of searching for the perfect yishuv, I couldn't bear the thought of leaving Jerusalem. I loved living in Yerushalayim, Ir HaKodesh (the Holy City of Jerusalem). My children went to school in the Old City -- they would run through the courtyards and scamper through the alleyways, as if the ancient city were their backyard. How could I leave? But housing prices were so expensive....
Then, we discovered Homat Shmuel, a new neighborhood, on paper, that was affordable to young couples with growing families. Nothing was built yet. It was perfect.
We could stay in Jerusalem and still participate in the building of Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel).
Homat Shmuel is five years old now. It is a thriving community and a wonderful example of religious and secular Jews living and working together. There are two excellent schools, a community center, parks, restaurants (good ones!), exercise clubs (to work off the good food), etc. It is an integral part of Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.
I thought the demonstration would be small, especially because tonight was cold and rainy. I expected mostly local residents would care to come out. I was wrong. Demonstrators came from all over the country.
I haven't gone to a demonstration in a long time. I have been so tired, fighting my own personal battle. But I miss it.
I miss being with a large group of people who care so much about the land of Israel, that they will stand for hours, in the cold and mud. I love reading signs that express what I feel in my heart. (The best one tonight read: We want to build homes for our children, not launch pads for katyushot). I love Women in Green, who were the main organizers of tonight's event, and who never tire of saying what needs to be said. I love being a part of all that.
I love being with people who are ORANGE.
I am ORANGE.
I am so caught up in the world of cancer, that I often don't have the strength to deal with what is happening to our country. I often can't bear to listen to the news because it makes me depressed and I need to keep my mood up. But I am not oblivious to what is going on around me. And my heart is breaking at what the Israeli government is doing to our country.
I am so proud to go with my children, to stand up and be counted. To say to the US and Israeli governments that Jerusalem, and all of Israel, belongs to the Jewish people. No one has the right to give it away.
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,