When I was a kid, I found a book at my grandparents’ house about the Holocaust. In fact, I found many books. I found myself quietly going into my grandfather’s study and reading those books, even though I knew that what I would find there would give me terrible nightmares. I read the horrific accounts, unable to believe that human beings could actually commit such barbaric atrocities.
Never did I believe that such a thing could happen in our era, but of course, what a childish attitude. The Jews who lived in 1939 also considered themselves to be a part of the modern era. But the way my childish mind dealt with these accounts, that I read with one eye squished shut, as though to block out the enormity of the horror, was to tell myself that these were stories of the past. Never did I believe these would become the stories of our present.
Never did I imagine holding my precious grandson and trying to understand how anyone could harm a beautiful innocent baby. Never before have I looked at the faces of sweet 13-year-old girls, now hostages of an evil empire, and think it could be my own beautiful daughter. Never did I think so deeply about 20-year-olds going into combat and consider my own sensitive, intelligent 20-year-old daughter. Never did I look at pictures of 23-year-old hostages, abducted from a music festival, and think of my own 23-year-old music-loving boy with his curly hair and ready smile.
Never have I spent so many nights crying myself to sleep. Never have I leaned so heavily on the magnificent words of King David, in the Book of Psalms, expressing his personal and national angst through the prism of a rock solid faith and an unshakable, confident belief that God would restore justice and joy to the world.
Never have I felt so proud to be Jewish; never have I felt so connected to my fellow Jews all over the world. Never, never have I spent so much time thinking about Jewish pride, never have I felt so anxious, never have I felt so grateful to have the corpus of Jewish scholarship and inspiration as my birthright. And never have I felt so empowered to share that magnificence with others.
Never have I wondered so viscerally what I would do if that were me, trapped in my home with my children, surrounded by terrorists. Never have I prayed so hard. Never have I prayed with so many tears. Never have I felt such comfort and solidarity, surrounded by my Jewish friends and community. Never have I pined so deeply to be in Israel, in my Land, in my home, my spiritual core. Never have I felt God so tangibly, and never have I wondered so forlornly when He will make this all stop.
Never again will I lazily rely on complacency to comfort me. Never again will I look at King David’s words the same. Never again will I feel shy about sharing my faith with others. Never again will I ever be the same. Never.
“Though I may walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear, because You are with me.” (King David, Psalms 23)