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Torn into pieces

By David Wilder
3/7/2008, 12:00 AM
Last night was a bad dream - no, a nightmare, really really bad. The kind of events you try not to think about. After managing to express a few of my thoughts (posted in my previous blog) I managed to get some sleep. Total exhaustion forced the sleep on me, but surely it wasn't a peaceful slumber. And it didn't last very long. At about 4:30 the phone next to my bed rang. My oldest daughter, pregnant with her fourth child, was on the line, telling me the time had come to leave for the hospital. Her baby was knocking on the door, waiting to emerge into this world.

My wife and another daughter dressed and walked five minutes down the road from Beit Hadassh where we live, to the Avraham Avinu neighborhood, where they live. Ora, my wife, left with Bat-tzion and Boaz to the hospital in Jerusalem. Ruti stayed with the other three kids, ranging in age from six to two. I dozed for a little while before giving up on any more sleep.

I knew the day would be difficult. It was clear that I had to go to Jerusalem for the funerals. But I'd already obligated myself to conduct a tour of Hebron. A family from the US was coming in for a Bar Mitzvah tour. How could I cancel it, leaving them without a guide to the sites in Hebron, a tour that they'd been looking forward to for quite a while?

So, I was basically torn into three pieces: one part of me was with my wife, daughter, and son-in-law, waiting for a new child/grandchild; one part of me was with the thousands in Jerusalem, mourning the murders of eight young men; and the last part of me, trying to keep myself composed, and even happy, while touring with several kids and their parents, explaining Hebron to them as I've done so many other times, as if today was just like any other day.

Just as we were beginning, in the Tel Rumeida-Tel Hebron neighborhood, my cellphone's SMS chicken cock-a-doodle-dood. It was a message from my wife: Bat-tzion just gave birth to her fourth boy. Mazal Tov.

I really wasn't quite sure how to react. On the one hand, an event like this is joyous. But it was difficult to feel, or express joy. I didn't even say anything to the group with me, at least not immediately. For some reason it didn't feel right. Only a little later did I spread the good news.

But I kept asking myself: is this really where I should be - shouldn't I be in Jerusalem, at Mercaz HaRav? Of course, I couldn't let that question interfere with a tour of Hebron; after all, who knows when they'd be back again. When you've got a chance to try to show people what Hebron is all about, you really don't want to mess it up. So, the tour went on, as usual. Almost.

The only thing I permitted myself to do, kind of releasing the frustrations, was to yell several times at one of the most despicable people I've ever come in contact with: Yehuda Shaul, founder and director of 'Breaking the Silence,' a fanaticly extremist left-wing organization, had the chutzpa to bring another group of people to Hebron, explaining to them the self-proclaimed 'war-crimes' he committed while serving in the IDF in Hebron, and pointing out the problems faced by the 'poor palestinians' who are 'oppressed' by the State of Israel, and of course, the 'racist settlers.' Several times, while passing the group, I could not contain myself: "You are supporting child killers! You are inciting to kill other other Jews."

Usually I don't do this. Today I couldn't not say it.

So that's the way it was - torn into three different pieces, torn by various and opposing emotions, while at the same time trying to maintain my sanity. Not easy to do.

Chodesh tov and Shabbat shalom from Hebron.