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Life Lessons with Judy Simon
Chloé Valdary is a junior and an International Studies Major at the University of New Orleans. In 2012, Chloé created the group Allies of Israel on her campus to promote the Jewish state and Israel advocacy. In the spring of 2013, She held the first pro-Israel rally on her school’s campus, called ‘Declare Your Freedom.’ Over 100 people were in attendance, and the speech she gave went semi-viral in 10 days. As a result of her work, she has been covered by such groups as Jewish Press, BET.com, Breitbart.com, The Jerusalem Post, and Israel Hayom, to name a few. She was named one of the top 100 people positively affecting Jewish and Israeli life in the Algemeiner’s inaugural celebration of this category. This list included notable figures like Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Barack Obama, and filmmaker Stephen Spielberg. Chloe has written articles for The Jewish Press, CAMERA on Campus, Arutz Sheva, The Jewish Thinker and The Times of Israel.
After my first trip to Israel this past June, I was inspired to write the following words. It is more of a prose piece than a typical blog submission, but it captures my feelings at the time of being in the Land with its People. I hope you all enjoy and, through reading these words, come to understand the deep love I have for the Jewish People.
Come And See
Young Child, whose dreams are full of wonder, whose smile makes God beam, awake now for I’ve a story to tell. I’ve a dream to impart to you, if you can bear it. For it is mighty in strength and courageous too. Of all the dreams you’ve acquired in your little life, are they as beautiful, as ambitious, as daring as this dream, this Zionism? This was Herzl’s great ambition, and the legacy he left upon the earth. What are its components? A kippa and prayer shawl? A free Arab? An Ethiopian Jew? This is its sum and then some. But its essence, its essence is in the hearts of the defiant 18 year old freedom fighters donned in khakis, clutching M16s, standing ready to defend their very existence. This Dream is the Redemption of the once despondent Jew; it is the Emancipation of Alfred Dreyfus. It is the Hope which Anne Frank felt in spite of what she saw and it is the Song sung by Hannah Szenes when she longed for the sand and the sea to never end and it never will. Come and see.
It is the persistently palpable heart of 14-year old Tamar Fogel who carries the weight of more than you could ever imagine. It is the cry of the Monsonegos for their daughter and their tenacious unshakeable resolve to live. It is the bellowing voice of Ben Gurion in Independence Hall as the bombs reigned down on Jerusalem and the survivors of the Shoah gripped weapons tightly, uttered prayers to the Almighty, and dared to live. Come and see, Young Child, if you can bear it. It is the Beauty, it is the splendor of Jerusalem, its glistening temple walls, where man and Creator meet and both stop and stare in awe. It is the desert terrain, the granite stones, the cloudless sky and it is the people who exude love just as the sun gives light, as the seas bring forth its salt, as the ground brings forth her food. Can you bear this joy? Only a child can know it, truly grasp it.
So look further and bear witness. Zion’s embers burn on; its sparks dance delicately at your feet. Its energy matches the vigor of the hustlers on Friday afternoons in their kippas shouting candidly, selling furiously, beckoning tourists, annoying the natives, ceaselessly shoving their way, running, dancing towards the moment in time and space where God rests. It is the cool Bedouin Muslim farmer and his family, graciously giving to their guests, kissing each other softly on cheeks, the kiss of friendship and warmth. Watch as their faces light up as they welcome their child home for the week’s end, back from Zion’s Defense Forces, an Arab brother, a Son of Israel. It is the laughter of the Indigenous Ones who longed for their land, who prayed for their land, who mourned for their land, who died for their land. Come and see how free they are, free to sing of The Hope and free to live it. Free and complete in their liberty as they drive down their streets, as they work in their shops, as they buy from their stores, as they build up their homes, as they lay on their lawns, as they dance in their bars, as they swim in their beaches, as they drink from their cups, as they eat from their plates, as they laugh, as they cry, as they work, as they rest, as they live, as they live, as they live!
Can you bear this joy? Because for me, it gives me chills. It makes me want to sing Am Yisrael Chai over and over and over. It makes me want to pray incessantly. It makes my heart leap and my fingers tingle. It makes my mind dance and my body ponder as though in but one moment I could take the golden sunset and place its fibers in my pockets. As if I could smell the glances of the survivors and know their thoughts when they were liberated from the pogroms and from the camps, from the libels and from the boycotts divestments and sanctions, from the protests and the slanders, from the French courts and the fake walls raised up on college campuses!
You Child, you are the child whose hands are affixed upright, afraid of death, not knowing what will come after, back turned to the bayonet held by Josef Blosche. Escape the photo in which you have thus far been remembered by if you can but for a moment. Come and see. The world will no longer remember you because they searched for you and other nameless souls and hapless victims on meaningless search engines. They will know you instead because of this dream you have dared to imagine, because of the wonder in your eyes when you witnessed it, and because of the tears you felt falling down Golda Meir’s cheeks. Child, I have little time, I have such little time. I wish you could come and stay a while. If we could trade places, I would in a heartbeat but we have less than that.
So I have no time to offer you quotes from Jabotinsky. I have no remarks from Ben-Gurion that would delight your heart and no, not even speeches from Herzl to arouse your sentiment, we have no time for that. Instead this is my song to you. My dream for you. I will fashion myself like King David and sing you a psalm, and hope that even in its crummy state, though the world is crashing down around you, you will take this dream and with your last breath understand that it is the most pertinent, most beautiful, most sentient. And I pray that your children will come to know this dream and be filled with a delicate desire to chose life forevermore.
We have not much time, Child. So come and see.