Thursday, June 26, 2014


by Ariel Pamela Blacher
               The initial desire of a young married couple is their ability to create a home together.  What exactly is a home? Is it the furnishings, the delectable meals cooked in the kitchen? Is it the laughter of young children running throughout the space? Or is it a spiritual place, a home where one can be connected to family, to friends, and to G-d?  And, where can one find such a home? How can one make such a home?  Does it exist? For me, my home is Israel.
               My family moved to Israel eight years ago from America.  Our goal was to be able to live in a land that is the land destined for the Jewish people.  This land was promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  This land was nourished by Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah.  And, the Kings of Israel built the Holy Temple in its coveted city of Jerusalem.  How could we not want to partake in such a destiny?
               Moving to Israel is not an easy feat.  At times, thorns are strewn in our paths in ways unfathomable to the American sensibility.  Yet, olim (immigrants) take these stumbling blocks as mere annoyances.  The language barrier, the inability to understand cultural nuances, and the post office system are only a few of the myriad of adventures we have all encountered!  Yet, we live here because it is our home.  We have decided to raise our families here, and watch future generations grow here, as well. 
               There is a viral video of local Israeli finalists from the 2013 television show The Voice.  They are singing the song “Home” by Phillip Phillips.  It is a poignant view of what home his.  The lyrics of the first stanzas are:

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave (wave) is stringing us along
Just know you're not alone
Cause I'm gonna make this place your home
Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
You get lost, you can always be found

Just know you're not alone
Cause I'm gonna make this place your home

This song explains it all…Our home in Israel is an unfamiliar road that olim blindly join. But, we know that we are not alone, we are together with other families…people who have made the same commitment to live in a Jewish State. We do not let the demons of terror unsettle us. Why? Because we know we are not alone. For, we make this place our home! It is a home of Jewish tradition, of spiritual guidance, and of brotherly love. It has been our home for generations. No one can ever take away my home.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mothers Unite to Bring Back Our Boys

Mothers Unite to Bring Back Our Boys
By Ariel Pamela Blacher
               It all started with a web campaign sent through the channels of Facebook, and local online community forums.  A group of women started a plea for women to come to the Shilat traffic junction to show support for the boys Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach, as well as their families.  Within hours, it went viral.  Women shared it, copy-pasted the details, and created a phone chain for carpools.  We were all to meet at 6:30 P.M., with posters, signs, tehillim (psalms), and spiritual strength.
               As my friends and I walked up from the parking area to the protest spot, I said to my friends “I think this will be the first time I will be standing at the trempiada (bus stop) there.” Everyone else nodded in agreement.  Our kids stand their almost every day to catch a ride home as they travel home from school, from an outing to the beach, or from their excursions to the local mall.  We usually are the ones who stop our cars to fill up the empty seats with the hitch-hikers on their travels towards our yishuvim (settlements). 
               We all lined up in unison, holding signs to “Bring Back Our Boys,” and immediately began to sing. As we sang, our voices became one. Religious, non-religious united as we sang.  We let our voices carry the songs of courage, of strength, of unity. Songs of faith, songs of Jerusalem, and songs of Israel rallied us into one united group of mothers. 
               The songs were followed by Tehilim (Psalms).  Women shared prayer books, and cellphone apps with the words, as we said the verses in unison.  Verses to encourage ourselves, but also to encourage G-d to hear our prayers.  We all believe the Divine hears our prayers, and our tears, but we must continue the prayers in order to make sense of the chaos that lead us to this moment.
               Throughout the rally, people honked their horns in unison as they drove by the area. Others gave us a “thumbs up.” And, lastly, others open their windows to sing and pray together with us.  No one is immune to the plight of these boys.  We are ALL mothers.  And, we all feel connected to these boys as if they were our own flesh and blood. 
               Shortly after the Psalms, a police van pulled up. At first, a popular journalist came out. There were cheers from the crowd.  But, she was followed by Bat-Galim Schaer and her husband.  They both began to walk down the side of the bus stop rally, and talk to each and every one of us.  We hugged and kissed Bat-Galim, and they both thanked us for our good deeds, and our strength. “Us? Our strength?” I thought, how amazing this couple is that they heard of our rally and eagerly came to thank us.  Truly, they have other concerns, other children, other necessary meetings to go to, or simply to wait at home for their son to walk through their door.  Yet, there they were, giving us their love and admiration.
               Sometimes it takes a tragic moment for a generation to form a bond with one another.  It is as if a collective bond is formed through these horrific times.  Sometimes it is war, and sometimes it is terror that does this to our collective souls.  The last time I felt this sense of collective pain was immediately after 9/11.  At the time, we lived in New York City.  As I walked throughout our New York City neighborhood I remember that it was as if everyone had the same exact thought, the same dread of listening to the news every spare moment to see if our loved ones were found…the dread of not hearing soon enough whether our family and friends would return home.   And, the agony of realizing some did not make it home at all.
               At this moment, there is hope.  And, as we sang the Hatikvah (the national Israeli anthem) tonight, I realized that this hope is even stronger when gathering together in prayer.  Currently, the IDF reports that these boys are alive.  We must continue to have tikvah (hope) and faith that these young boys will speedily return home.  Our faith in G-d’s Divine plan must be strong, as we continue to pray for Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach, to return to their families, their friends, and to their schools.  Our collective souls must continue to be strong in spirit as we unite to bring them home, where they belong. 

Ariel Blacher is a teacher of English as a Second Language in Hashmonaim, Israel. She moved to Hashmonaim in 2006, with her family, from Riverdale, New York.