Photo credit: Jalaa MAREY / AFP, October 15, 2023. Israeli tanks positioned in the north of Israel near the border with Lebanon 

Shabbat was good. But strange. 

There was a lot of activity in the sky. 

Airplanes, helicopters, lots of rumbling. 

All this punctuated by a blanket of the Golan’s special breed of quiet. There was and still is an eerie sense of a calm before a  storm. 

We live in a border community in northern Israel. We moved here from the Beit Shemesh area 12-plus years ago. I consider our move to the Golan our second “aliya.”

The lifestyle. The people. The beauty. The importance of maintaining a strong, thriving, Jewish presence on our northern border – all reasons for our move.

The fact that this area is zoned as “Area A,” meaning the government provides incentives in the form of more affordable land, was another very large pull.

The Golan (and the upper Galilee) share borders with both Syria and Lebanon. Maintaining a stronghold in this militarily strategic part of our country is critical to the safety of the whole country. I’d argue the whole world. 

Since the end of the Syrian civil war, the Syrian border has been (basically) quiet. Except for hearing booms from their fighting and the occasional “mistaken missile/mortar” falling on our side, Syria has been so busy with their own internal warring and recovery they haven’t had time or need to pick fights with us.

The Lebanese border, i.e. Hezbollah, on the other hand, has been a continuous threat; the most recent and biggest flare-ups in 1982-2000, 2006, and again, very possibly, now. 

There are larger politics (Russia, Iran, China) at play behind both Syria and Lebanon, but I’ll leave that part of the story to the pros to unwind. I have enough on my mind as it is. Cognitive dissonance is a close friend of mine, and I willingly engage in his company often.

The fact is, in all the years we’ve been here, I have understood on an intellectual, national, and theoretical level how vital our presence is here. This is the first time I feel it in a visceral, day-to-day kind of way. 

While we mourn and pick up the pieces of our lives. While we cry for our own, still stranded in the belly of the beast. While we pray for the continued strength and well-being of our soldiers (our very own children, husbands, brothers, and sisters), we also stand our ground across the borders of this land. While I pray for my family and friends in the States and Europe as pro-terror groups march their blood-stained drums and spew their hate… 

We press on. Find the next right thing to do. 

Shishi said it beautifully this morning, 

“I understand what’s happening. I’m not scared. I am worried.” 

That’s basically how I feel. Except if I’m being honest, sometimes I am scared. (She agreed, that sometimes she is too).

Also, as my friend Tali said, “It’s just too much.” 

It is. It really is. All of it, the whole sum of it. 

It’s too much.

And yet, here we are. 

Awake on a new day. 

With choices about where to put our attention. 

With choices about how we answer the question: “How are you?”

There are a lot of valid ways to answer that. 

My answer, at this moment: 

I’m grateful to be a part of the Jewish people. 

Grateful to live in the Golan Heights.

I’m holding up. 

Shavuah tov friends.