I don’t often ‘share’ stories of terrorist attacks in Israel.
Because you’ll find out either way. You always do. Whether you search for them or not, those videos and updates will find your eyes and tattoo their images onto the casings of your heart.
They’ll attack your mind as you lay in bed. They’ll threaten your dreams.
I figure that there’s no need for you to be faced with horrid news time after time. Moment after moment.
Because you know.
(Oh G-d, do we know).
Instead, for every terrorist attack, I usually try to spot and share one miracle in my own life. When the world falls into chaos, I go out of my way to notice that although things are dark, there are still flashes of light.
I go out of my way to be the flash of light for someone else.
I perform a sad dance in an attempt to capture fireflies in mason jars.
Every time a knife is pulled on someone waiting for a bus, I give extra attention to an unexpected kind act. Every time I hear of another victim, I place a phone call to an old friend.
I don’t post notices about terrorist attacks. I post stories about kindness and balloons and joy.
I search for small, tiny moments to keep me hopeful. For material with which I can feed my (and my friends’) ravenous, shivering shadow of belief in the goodness of humanity.
Even though everything in me wants to yell ‘injustice’ for all to hear, I endeavor to find little gems of humanity to share.
Even if I have to mine through a mountain of tears in order to find them.
But recently, there have been too many acts of terror to compete with. As hard as I try, I can’t conjure enough stories.
I can’t keep up.
It’s too much.
Because over the past month, knife attacks have been part of the daily reality of my friends in Israel. Stabbings and fires and attempted bombings and cars driving into pedestrians.
And while I’m listening to music on a New York subway platform, the people I care about – my people – are glancing over their shoulders and out of the corners of their eyes.
And while I’m shopping for new running shoes, the people I love – my people – are being placed on waiting lists for mace because, due to high demand, the stores are out of stock.
And while my biggest fear while crossing the street is of being hit by a driver who would swerve to avoid me, the people I admire – my people – are trying to avoid cars that would swerve to hit them.
My nightly (ok, more than nightly) scrolls through my Facebook feed are filled with videos and stories of fear. Of near-misses. Of pain.
Of Hatred. (Im)Pure and simple.
And, although my ‘happy posts’ seem to have a good response, a part of me feels guilty for endeavoring to highlight the good.
Because the majority of me just wants to immerse myself in this sadness.
Because all I want to do is sympathize and empathize and apologize. Because all I want to do is to hug the person standing next to me and never let go.
Because my people are not only suffering. We’re being actively sought out for slaughter on an individual basis.
Because these attacks are non-discriminatory. Old, young, central bus stations, street corners.
Because this world frightens me.
And recently, I’ve found myself wondering: what gives me the right to enter into a metaphorical house of mourning and whisper, ‘there’s still some joy in the world’?
I mean, how can we in America have the audacity to smile when our people are under attack?
Who do I think I am to search desperately for stars on the darkest of nights?
Ecclesiastes writes: There is a time for everything […] a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.
They all seem like distinct times: One day for weeping. One day for laughter. One day for mourning. One day for dancing.
But maybe these opposites are put together because we, as humans, need both to survive. We, as living paradoxes, must pair sadness with joy.
We’re required to light a candle upon hearing the death of a loved one. Because we need light.
(Oh, G-d, we need light).
So can we weep through laughter and laugh through tears? Can we lead a mournful dance?
And the truth is, I don’t know.
I just don’t know.
All I know is that at the apex of a Jewish wedding we break a glass. Because, even in the midst of the most joyous day of our lives, we must recall that we are still in exile. It reminds us that despite our celebration, we must remain sensitive to the ongoing suffering in the world. We must remain cognizant of the fact that things can still get better.
That it is up to us to must make them better.
And although I’m not sure, I think that it may be the same in reverse. In every time of fear and sadness and hopelessness, we must seek out joy.
At the height of our despair, we must remember that there is still hope.