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Gaza and Shabbat

By Paula Stern
7/25/2014, 3:07 PM

Dear Gaza -

Yes, you're firing rockets at us, filling this Friday with hate and threats as you have each hour of the last 18 days. But today of all days, Israelis and Jews are working to counter that hatred with one of the oldest and greatest gifts we have. 

On this day, as you fire at Israel, the challah is baking in my home, filling the house with the most amazing smells. The salmon is cooling; two quiches are in the oven. The candles have been filled with oil. I still have so much to do, but already the feeling is there, assuring us that soon...soon peace will come. No, not with you. I don't believe anymore that we will see peace between our peoples. Not in my lifetime and most definitely not in yours.

You can take so many things away from us, Gaza. You can take our sons to war; you can take our children out of the sun for fear of an incoming rocket attack. You have taken 33 of our sons; made too many children fatherless, too many wives have become widows. Above all, the pain caused by these losses could cripple us...but we won't let it because even as we mourn, we continue to live.

You can take away our sense of calm, here and there. But ultimately, you'll fail, That is our great truth as we cook and bake and clean today - as we do every Friday here in Israel. You'll fail, Gaza, for the simple reason that you can't take our faith. You can't take what binds us together as a people. Each day, incredible acts if kindness are being done here to push back the ugliness you spread. This morning, I joined three members our our city council as men, women, children, even a small toddler, walked in with packages of toys and snacks for the children of Sderot. On Sunday, friends of mine will again travel south bringing love and supplies to our soldiers. Stores all over the country are giving free food to those in need; our national airlines, without any hesitation, brought in parents of a wounded soldier from the United States at no cost.

Stores have donated huge cartons of food; toys stores donated thousands of shekels worth of beautifully new toys. Children wrote letters to accompany the games, the stuffed animals we are sending down there on Sunday. One child even gave his skateboard. A 91 year old man walked in with a bag of toys he had purchased, and then stayed to help us pack all the food and toys.

My people, the people of Israel, has stood the test of history again and again, outlasting aggressors like you for centuries. They are all gone and if I had to bet with history, I'd say you'll be gone too. They left little or nothing in their wake, just as you have. What culture have you added to the world? What great innovations? What scientific or medical breakthroughs have you brought to this world? What nations praise you for the times you have helped them?

All you've done, really, is cultivate hate - and most of that is sadly within your own children. You have perfected the art of committing suicide, I'll grant you that, but you have not perfected the art of living. You have perfected building tunnels to attack while we have built an amazing rocket defense system to protect. I

So this Friday, as last week and as next week, my house is filled with the knowledge that peace will come soon - the special peace of Shabbat. That is what we fight for, that is what we will protect, that is what is coming...soon.