Mommy, Can I Play Outside?
Updated: May 12, 2019
“Mommy, can I play outside?” asks my seven-year-old the other day while I was cooking dinner. An innocent question that I normally would instinctively answer with a resounding, “yes sweetie, have fun.” But I knew what my daughter was asking. She wasn’t asking for permission to be alone outside, rather she was asking if it was safe because of the rockets.
This Saturday and Sunday over six hundred rockets were launched into Israel from Gaza. Sirens were blaring across southern and central Israel, schools were partially closed, and four Israeli civilians lost their lives. My week was spent glued to the news, wondering if we the rockets would reach where we live.
Fearing rockets is nothing new. I have been dealing with rocket warnings ever since we moved to Israel seven years ago. The third month we lived here; rockets were being launched as far as Tel Aviv, and again in 2014. My girls were little then so if Mommy didn’t panic, they didn’t. Now it’s different, they understand what’s going on, and I can’t always protect them from the facts on the ground. They hear from friends at school and they hear the news reports in the car. They see the pictures I scroll past on Facebook and overhear our whispers. They don’t need me to tell them to be careful, they already know what to do if they hear a siren.
My daughter asked a heart-breaking question, “why do they shoot rockets at us, what did we do?” My daughter is searching for a cause and effect relationship. I try to answer her question but to be honest, I struggle to hold back my anger. How can I tell my daughter that some people have such hate for Israel and Jews that there is no logical answer to her question?
These past two weeks, I feel like we have only been talking about the destruction caused by baseless hatred. The shooting attack in a Poway synagogue, school shootings in America, the rockets, Yom Hashoah and Yom Hazikaron. So much sadness! Too much for children, too much for me.
Now my children feel safe again to go outside. The threat of more rockets has lifted, for now. We celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day). Of course, living in Israel doesn’t protect me from all the dangers of the world, some even argue that it’s not safe at all. But it’s our home; a place where I feel safe, comfortable and loved most of the time. A place where my daughters can play outside, walk home from school and generally feel safe. I try not to let the hate of the world scare me, instead I am comforted by Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein’s words: “the way we react to darkness is with light.”