CONSOLATION & CONSIDERATION
By Joseph Romanelli
Im not sure whos supposed to be encouraging
whom. These are hard times for everyone. My brother
in Los Angeles purchased Israeli gas masks for his family,
and is concerned about anthrax antidotes. Here, a few
weeks ago, a bomb exploded outside our building next
to the place our car is usually parked. My wife had
left five minutes earlier. No one there or here can
be certain that he or she is safe. Thats a fact
we in Israel have lived with for years, and which Americans
too will now have to accept.
We know we have to continue to lead normal lives, but
we do so with a part of us, mostly unconsciously, observing
our surroundings and giving us feedback as we go along.
Whos that getting on the bus now?
was that noise?
Should I take that road? Is it
Should I take my pistol with me? These
are thoughts that accompany my daily rituals. Now it
becomes part of the routine of all Americans and Israelis.
Perhaps because of Americas sheer size it still
seems an exaggerated statement, but some 5000 Americans
were recently killed, partially a result of an exaggerated
feeling of security.
In some weird sense, the playing field has been leveled.
If terrorism is now world-wide (and it is), then it
should no longer be an impediment to aliyah.
Jews in America may be statistically safer then in Israel,
but as here, you never know when you or someone near
to you will be a victim. In the meantime, while this
violence is going on, your presence here, as always,
makes a statement. Every oleh contributes to
the survival and flourishing of Israel. Trite but true;
indisputable. And so, worth considering. What do you
want your life to mean?
I realize what I write is somewhat of a downer, but
I hope its realistic. What is happening today
does not surprise me, it is a logical result given what
the Arab world wishes Israel, American naiveté
and hypocrisy, and what we manage to do to ourselves.
There is, however, no choice. We have to cope and deal
with what weve been given. Any help is appreciated,
and most of all olim, who come to fully share
in our future. You have the choice of whether to commit
yourself to Israel physically or support her from a
distance. Id rather see you closer than farther.
Ive lived nearly half my life here, and there
were easier days, but they were days of illusion, in
which I willingly participated. Life is still good here,
but the illusion is gone. Perhaps a few less smiles
around, less humor on the media, but I am no less convinced
that what Ive done with my life was the right
thing to do. My greatest regret is that more fellow
Conservative Jews havent felt as I do.
Joseph Romanelli was a foreign service officer for
the U.S. State Department before making aliyah to Israel
from Brooklyn, N.Y. in l972. He recently retired as
Director of the North American Desk of the Jewish Agency.
Joe and his Israeli-born wife, Achinoam, are founding
members of the Ramot Zion Synagogue in the French Hill
neighborhood of Jerusalem. He is also a founding member
of the Jerusalem Barbershop Ensemble.
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