Boots on the Ground

For a number of summers, we worked at Moshava. We worked pretty hard and rarely saw the pool, but on days that I was feeling ambitious, I would take a kid or two at the end of the day. The lifeguards at the pool rivaled any front-line defense team. There, stationed around the pool, stood some very tanned lifeguards with great summer highlights through their hair — probably because they spent eight hours a day outdoors. The lifeguards surrounded the pool with one standing every few feet outlining the perimeter of the pool. And then they just waited and watched.

That is the best analogy I can give to my Tzomet, Tzomet Gush Etzion. There are literally soldiers every few feet, standing, staring, waiting. Give them a towel and a lifeguard whistle and it’s pretty much the same thing. But the crazy (crazy) thing is that people still keep getting stabbed. With soldiers (and soldiers and soldiers) every few feet, it is still not enough.

These days there some elite soldiers at the tzomet. How do we know they’re elite? They come with face masks — these black “maybe I could be knocking off a 7-11 right now” — masks. Dov thinks he’s being guarded by “good guy robbers.”

I am fascinated by the role trauma plays in the lives of small children. Because Dov is my last (and also super adorable) kid, I walk him to the bus each and every day and wait with him at the bus stop. Something I never had the time to do before (also, if I’m being honest, Yoni is the only other kid who took the bus and he would never want me to cramp his style). Often, I’m the only parent there and I love it. I chat with each kid. I know their test schedule, if they’ve done their homework and what they’re packing for lunch. The other day I was talking to my adorable little neighbor about the weather. And she told me that even though it is already cold out, she doesn’t have new boots yet.

It turns out the day she was supposed to be getting boots was a Thursday and instead of getting boots, she tells me earnestly, her mom had to go over to the neighbor’s house because the neighbor’s husband got shot. So no boots. And that’s the way she tells this story, she understands the story. Instead of boots, her neighbor died.

We got cookies from a neighboring Yishuv the Friday after Yaakov was killed. And I was touched by the gesture. It seemed nice. And then I was angry all Shabbat at those cookies. I don’t want to be the one getting a cookie. I want a bit of a different reality — where we get boots when we’re supposed to get boots and make our own cookies.

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