Monday, January 09, 2012

Grow up and start acting like a baby!

Israeli society isn't playing by the rules at the moment. The "rules" say that, when faced with an external threat, you put your differences aside and pull together. 

Yet, at the same time that Gazan rockets intermittently pound Israeli towns, the Muslim Brotherhood seems poised to control Egypt and Ahmadinejad continues his war rhetoric, Israelis are bickering like never before. 

Charedi fringe elements attack IDF bases, attack little girls for dressing "immodestly" and then don concentration camp uniforms while they condemn the government. The media ramps up the frenzy, tainting all religious Israelis with the same "segregation" brush and warn of a "Taliban-style" takeover of the country by extremists. Various shades of religious Israelis slander each other and the secular majority's intolerance of religious extremists is Code Red.

The same diverse society that shared a common lump-in-the-throat when Gilad Shalit came home is mud-slinging at full throttle. Secular and religious Israelis have clashed many times before, but the current spat seems more bitter- and more public- than what we've seen in the past.

Honestly, I've barely checked the unfolding events and have only stitched together a picture from glances at email headlines and talk overhead on the street (or, more accurately, in Shul). Instead, I have spent the last week with dear friends who have just tragically buried their eighteen-month-old daughter. Through the week of shiva a constant stream of Charedi, Mizrachi, secular and Chabad Jews have shared tears and stories, as they have marveled at the stubborn faith of a young couple and the global legacy their baby left behind. Without speaking, Baby Noa touched thousands around the globe and galvanized them into a common goal of prayer and optimism, of staring down obstacles and reclaiming faith. I saw strangers pray for her recovery in New York, Los Angeles, Sydney and Melbourne- and there were certainly dozens more such locations. 

Baby Noa hadn't yet learned the dark art of judgement, so nobody judged her. Nobody judges a baby. The thousands who davened for her didn't need to know her family's last name, her mother's profession or which shul her father attended. They just cared. Instinctively. As anyone cares for a child.

I only wish Noa's legacy could touch and unite Israeli society as it did all those thousands of Jewish un-strangers who've shared the bond of caring for her well-being over the last months. Someone needs to remind Israelis that each of us is called a child of G-d. It's time to grow up and act like one. 

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