“Abi Geszunt, Zie Geszunt “: As Long As You are Healthy, Be Safe

10 Jul

I have a vested interest in the survival of the state of Israel. Besides being the home to the descendants of my relatives who survived the Shoah, and to family members who made aliyah from the US over the years, it is also the home of my daughter.

For a year in 1974-75, I studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. I met many young men and women who had survived the Yom Kippur War, and were still in shock over what had occurred. Those who had served in the Sinai, I think were forever scarred by the horrors they encountered and the many deaths they saw. We lived on edge that year, never knowing if there would be a flare up.

But that year changed my life. I instilled in my children a love of Israel. I took them to Israel on a family trip. I told them how our family moved there. I wanted them to understand the importance of having a Jewish homeland.

I never hid from the dark side of Israel: the harsh realities that Israelis must face each day. Let terrorists sneak in, or build a wall/fence?   Show weakness, and then more will die. Be strong, because if Israel is not strong, then the country will be destroyed. It is difficult to live with these pressures. But while we must still be strong, we must also be compassionate.

My daughter took my words to her heart.   During the summer of her junior year of college, she studied at Tel Aviv University. Then she went to Israel after finishing college and studied for two master’s degrees there. At Ben Gurion University of the Negev she earned a master’s in Middle Studies, and then went on for a second master’s on the Politics of Conflict.

She spent a year back in the USA, where she interned at Planned Parenthood in Kansas and was a substitute teacher at the Hebrew day school she attended as a child. But then she decided that she had to make aliyah –that living in Israel was the only option for her.

Abi Geszunt. Zie Geszunt. When I went to Israel for my one-year program, my Grandma Esther would send me articles from the newspaper about what was happening in Israel. Her notes said, “You could kill me in other ways.” Grandma Esther was the queen of inducing guilt. But I still went. My Grandpa Nat said, “Abi Geszunt. Zie Geszunt.”

My husband and I went to see our daughter when she was studying for her first master’s degree. We were standing at the Air Force Museum (in the Negev) with a young soldier when several Israeli fighter jets took to the air. The soldier and I looked at each other. And I knew that soon life in Israel would change.

Before I left for the US, I told my daughter, “Be careful. (Abi Geszunt). Something is brewing (Zie Geszunt).”

And a few days later Cast Lead began. I was on the phone with her one day when the sirens went off. “Mom,” she said, “Don’t worry if the phone disconnects. That often happens when a rocket hits.” She had 60 seconds to take cover.

“Where are you? Is your head covered?”

“I am under my desk. Don’t worry, I have my hoodie on.”

I heard the rocket hit. I heard her roommate tell her to stay down, that another one would come. I heard the police loudspeakers telling people to stay inside. And my hair turned whiter. I prayed. Abi Geszunt. Zie Geszunt.

And so when events in Israel flare up, I become somewhat anxious.

The past few weeks have been horrible with the abduction of the three Israeli teenagers. And when they were found buried in a field, I felt the same horror everyone else felt. But my world changed a bit when I found out that a group of Jewish settlers were the possible murderers of an Arab teenager, a revenge event.

In my mind Jews do not participate in senseless hatred. And two wrongs never make a right. Those who killed Mohammad Abu Khedair are just as evil as those who killed Naftali Frankel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar, the Israel Jewish teens.

Those who preach hatred against all Arab Moslems are wrong. Target the evil! Hamas is evil in my opinion. The teaching of hatred is wrong in my mind. The constant bombardment of rockets into Israel, into civilian territories, is evil in my mind. But we must remember there are people on both sides who want this seemingly endless cycle to end.

In my heart, I knew the death of the Moslem youth would just put more credence to Hamas for the ever increasing bombardments. I knew there would be an escalation of hostilities. I guess I expected the Hamas response. It was as if they were looking for a reason to escalate the bombardments into Israel, to bait Israel into attacking them.

Now it has happened. Bombs are flying back and forth. People are dying. Young men are being called up for military duty. Smoke rises over the cities and the Gaza. The rockets from Gaza reach further than ever before. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are in the bull’s eye.

The Middle East is more stressed than it has been in years.   Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt all in some degree of turmoil; ISIS declaring itself the new caliphate; Iran and it’s nuclear goals… all of these are potential dangers to Israel and the world.

I see what is happening in Israel, and I worry. Not only for my daughter’s physical well being, but also for the mental and moral wellbeing of her and any family she might one day have. However, I had one less fear this week, as my daughter is in the US for our niece’s wedding until the weekend.

I taught my children that racism and baseless hatred was wrong. I have worked for years on interfaith events and building bridges between people of all religions. More than anything else I want an end to this endless cycle of violence.

My daughter returns to Israel this weekend. She returns to the new life she has made for herself. She will leave the safety of Kansas. And I cannot stop her.

All I could do is say, “Abi Geszunt. Zie Geszunt.” As long as you are healthy; be healthy. Of course, what I am really saying is, “Be safe!”

Be Safe everyone!



“Abi Gezunt” song by Molly Picon. http://www.milkenarchive.org/works/lyrics/547

4 Responses to ““Abi Geszunt, Zie Geszunt “: As Long As You are Healthy, Be Safe”

  1. Roseann Copeland July 13, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

    I always learn something new about you and your family when I read these.

    • Roseann Copeland July 13, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

      Loved this blog too.

      • zicharon July 13, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

        Thank you!

    • zicharon July 13, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

      Good things I hope.

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