When a Kid Believes in Miracles
Last night I was cleaning up the kitchen after a draining day. My husband is traveling for work and I was alone with the kids. We had spent the afternoon setting up the bomb shelter in case rockets and their sirens would come to Jerusalem overnight. It had been quiet in our neighborhood, but the city shelters were open, and so would ours if we needed it.
Since picking up my kids from school there had been lots of rocket talk. The who, what, where, and why’s. Besides for my son being too anxious to go upstairs to his room on his own, “because of the shooters” – both my kids went to bed with relatively little fight.
I was exhausted, reflecting on the intensity of the situation for people all over the country who had already been in their bomb shelters all day. I thought about how this was such an insane way to live.
While I was at the sink, my daughter crept back downstairs. She stood at the staircase a while, till I noticed that she was there. I figured this might happen; she wanted to talk. I didn’t need all the emergency pamphlets that had been sent around by the schools to tell me that kids were going to need to talk, but they warned us. I was ready for her.
“I’m scared, Ima. What’s going to happen if…”
We reviewed all the scenarios that we could think of. We made plans and home emergency procedures. We reviewed all the protocols the iriya was sending out. All of this I did with a heavy heart. Though it gave her confidence, the longer we spoke, the more I thought, “It’s crazy that I brought her here.”
I took this kid from the relative safety of America, where there was little possibility of rockets falling from the skies. She used to make lists of her favorite Disney princesses and now she is sitting making a list of what we would need in a bomb shelter. I have my faith and my idealism and they are strong. But when it comes to the safety of our kids, it gets tough.
So I asked her, “What do you think about the fact that we didn’t use to live like this? Life sure seemed quieter in America…”
She paused and said, “Hold on. I want to show you something.”
She ran to the living room and pulled a siddur off the bookshelf. She opened up to the morning blessings and said, “Ima, every morning in school we say this line, ‘Hashem bachartanu mikol haamim, vinatan lanu et torato.’ God chose us from all other nations, and he gave us the Torah.”
“Ima, it says in the Torah that Eretz Yisrael was given to Avraham, and that it is given to all of us. It’s our job to be here. This land is ours and so we came to live here. So it doesn’t matter that there are rockets falling from the sky. No one said it would be easy. But we are where we are supposed to be.”
The earnestness in her eyes brought tears to mine. She was right, this was exactly where we were supposed to be.
Kids are incredibly resilient and smart. They have such incredible capacity for faith in tough times. When she was little, I used to want to shelter her from the world. Hide all the bad, all the evil, so she could stay in her bubble of sweetness and light. I never wanted to take that from her.
Moving here, she has been exposed to far more violence than I would have wanted her to. As parents, it is our job to give our kids the tools to make meaning of their place in the world, and where they belong. Kids growing up in Israel have to deal with realities that can be harsh. But a shared faith in who we are, where we come from, and where we belong, bolsters us all to make meaning from those realities. They give us the strength to continue to live in this land, where we feel we belong.
As a recent olah, I can understand how frightening living here can look in times of war. I can see it from the outside and now the inside too. But here, I always feel that we have divine protection. It is amazing what strength, faith can bring into the world.
At some point yesterday I was telling my kids about some of the miracles that have come about from the Iron Dome, and moments that felt like divine intervention to save the people of Israel from the rockets falling.
Last night at the end of our conversation while I was tucking her into bed, my daughter asked me, “Ima, can you tell me about the miracles again?”
We need to hold onto those miracles. Today, the bombardment of rockets into Israel from Gaza has continued. Since yesterday it has been 230+ rockets. Israelis are still in danger; people are being injured, houses hit, danger falling from the sky. We need miracles. We need faith. We need all of you, all around the world, to continue your prayers.
The people of Israel are strong. Our children are strong. And we aren’t going anywhere.
Please share stories coming out of Israel, so that the world knows the truth about what is happening here!
Shira Lankin Sheps grew up in New Jersey and went to Stern College for women. After graduating from Hunter College School of Social Work with her MSW in clinical social work, she worked in the clinical field, in marketing and photojournalism.
She decided to start The Layers Project to help break down stigma and promote healing within our Jewish community.
She feels strongly about presenting women, who are so often shown as shallow characters or fully removed from Jewish media spaces, as three-dimensional individuals whose lives are full and rich with resilience.
Shira made aliyah with her family two years ago to Jerusalem.
Headshot taken by Tzipora Lifchitz.