Paula R. Stern

Paula R. Stern – Scared…

Paula R. Stern – Scared…

For several months, David has been up north.

For the most part, after 10 years with a kid in the army, I keep thinking I’ve mastered most of this…but once in a while, much less often than in the past, something gets to me…

Davidi called on Friday before Shabbat to wish me us Shabbat shalom (a good and peaceful Shabbat). He wouldn’t be home this Shabbat; I won’t see him spread out on our couch playing on his phone. I knew that even last week; I was prepared to miss him but looked forward to that last call before lighting candles Friday night, a chance to speak to him for a few minutes and wish him a wonderful Shabbat.

…I can’t tell you how I knew, but I just knew something was different. He wasn’t telling me something. I don’t know how I knew to ask, but I did.

“Where are you?” I asked him, fully expecting him to name the area where he has been in the north.

He didn’t. Instead, he gave a location in central Israel which was recently hit by a horrific terror accident in which three members of one family were butchered in their homes. A week later, in an effort to show support, I had attended the circumcision ceremony of the baby that had been born into that family the day before the massacre.

The birth of that baby is what likely saved the lives of his parents; and the birth of that baby is likely what will give his grandparents, cousins, aunts and grandmother the ability to push through this tragedy.

Since then, there have been riots and trouble in the area as the Arab villages protest…protest…well, I guess they are protesting the fact that the terrorist was captured alive and is being held. On Friday, 70 tourists came under a rock attack when they were caught touring near the area. And so, in a show of strength and deterrence, the army shuffled around units, including David’s unit.

I guess I wasn’t prepared for that shift and it was too close to Shabbat for me to figure out how to cope. The house was clean; the food was all cooked. I was about to go take a shower. It’s that wonderful moment when you are about to slide into peace and quiet after a hectic weak and suddenly that peace is shattered with worry.

No phones over the Sabbath; I was afraid to leave the house. More than once, I imagined the unimaginable and hated myself for being weak.

As perspectives go, the Salomon family tragedy is about as “good” as you could ever hope. If you’re feeling angry or depressed or worried, imagine how they feel. Imagine what they are going through and yet, they have comforted a nation with their strength and their determination to choose life, to celebrate the birth of a beautiful baby boy, their treasure rather than their sorrow. How can we do any less?

And so over Shabbat I tried not to be afraid; not to think about where he is and what could happen if the Arabs in those villages become violent (again). More stoning attacks? More terror?

Nothing happened. David is fine. It was quiet. I was worried for nothing. Back connected to my phone, which I ran and checked mere minutes after the Sabbath ended, I’m fine.

It’s just more proof that no matter how much you think you can adjust to this life, you never can really predict anything. I was so sure he was up north…

And on a separate note, after the brutal attack, the Prime Minister and others announced that there is a law in Israel that would allow for the death penalty. Israel has not used that law in more than 50 years and officially, it has only been used once in our 69 years, when Adolf Eichmann was tried and convicted for his role in the murder of over 6 million Jews during the Holocaust.

Courtesy of the Independent and Amnesty International


For a nation that is often accused of being barbaric, isn’t it interesting that 8 of the top 10 countries who have executed the most people are Muslim countries?

This chart shows deaths just since 2014. Put Israel in the chart for the last 70 years and we still fall below all of the ones listed here.

But for once, Israel was thinking about it. Benjamin Netanyahu called for it, as did many others. And then the prosecutor’s office announced it would only seek a jail term, as it has always done.

I think fear is a terrible and sad emotion. And while sometimes it is very understandable, sometimes it is just wrong and damaging. A mother fearing for her son is normal; a government afraid to seek justice is not.

I have always been proud of the fact that Israel has only executed one man – and that one for crimes so horrific it is nearly impossible to contemplate. But isn’t the crime of going into a home and murdering three precious souls horrific as well? In Judaism we have a concept of viewing each individual as the entire world. It’s very logical. No one can comprehend numbers that reach into the millions and billions but if you can view the world as one person multiplied untold numbers of times, each a precious soul worthy of our love and respect, THEN perhaps, we will come close to truly valuing human life.

Two weeks ago, we lost three worlds. A husband, father and grandfather; an amazing and much loved teacher; and a beloved husband and father and partner. Three souls. I’m trying not to be embarrassed by the fear that had me calling David’s brothers and asking them to check up on their brother and make sure things were as quiet as he was telling me. I’m not embarrassed…mostly…that I quickly called his sister and asked her to say a prayer for him (or that I messaged two friends quickly and ask them to do the same). I’m not embarrassed that as they said the prayer for the soldiers of Israel in synagogue on Shabbat, I closed my eyes and begged God to watch over my son.

But the prosecutors of Israel should be embarrassed. When one “man” so callously enters a home and murders three innocent people, damaging a precious family, robbing two women of their husbands, five children of their father, there is no punishment strong enough to offer justice. But death will act as a deterrence. The death penalty needs to be brought to Israel – not for most crimes, even for most murderers. But there are some so horrific, even the heavens cry as the injustice of putting them in prison only to release them later in some blackmail attempt.

Bibi buckled a very short time ago; he’s allowing his government to buckle again. Israel demands justice not a revolving door for terrorists.

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