Koreen Sopher
Koreen Sopher Thursday 23.7.15 No comments 1937 views

Musings between a Morning Coffee and a Note from the Home Front

8:00 AM. Trying to wake up after a morning that started way too early (why is it that kids think 5:30 AM is a perfect time to eat breakfast?). I walk into the educational psychological services where I work, and rummage through the pile of notices on my desk. Among the paperwork is an invitation to take part in a trauma-centered first aid training course run by the ‘Home Front Command,’ the organization in charge of providing aid to civilians in a time of attack. It catches my attention, and sparks one of the (many) ongoing inner dialogues I have with myself.

As a mother of three, a settler, and a school psychologist, it's hard to tell where one role ends and the other begins. When I read the notice at work, I had one of those surreal experiences of worlds colliding.  

Without my three-sided existence, I would have viewed this training as just another course without too many strong feelings. What better way to prepare for summer than making sure we all know how to act in the event of a war?

This little note woke me up far more successfully than the coffee. The internal debate began.

As a country, we are always busy best preparing ourselves for the next tragedy. We expect it; we almost wait for it to happen. But we don’t stop at that. We excel at developing internationally renowned means of self protection, from the West Bank separation barrier to the Iron Dome. In mental health, Israel is a leader in research and intervention programs for the treatment of trauma-related syndromes.

I can't help but see it all as symptoms of national psychological trauma. A struggle with our disturbing past life as a helpless wandering people facing persecution at every corner. Unable to face our enemies, survival meant learning how to accept and adapt to each disaster. Now, we are challenged by a strange new reality – coming home.  

My mind wanders instinctively back to my own home, to my children. Security. Safety. Trust in God. I think that growing up in America, and then living in the center of Israel, I personally never had a reason to grapple with these concepts on an everyday level. Three years ago, we moved to a small community in the Binyamin region called Adei Ad. It’s located on a hilltop, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and serenity.  It is also surrounded by quite a few Arab villages, and there’s no security fence. Suddenly, otherwise normative activities such as grocery shopping, family trips, driving to work, and saying good night to the kids have become a daily reminder of Israel’s fragile security situation. 

On one hand, there is nothing that makes me happier than seeing my children so in touch with nature, running freely through these beautiful landscapes that surround us.

On the other hand, nothing stresses me out more than strapping three children into their car seats and praying that no terrorist will try to harm us on our way. I often ask myself, am I putting them through undue danger? Where is the line between my trust in God and the effort required on my part? 

Rationally, I have no response. I think I will continue asking myself these questions for the rest of my life. But intuitively, I wouldn’t choose to live any other way, because by living this paradox, I feel that I am actually choosing life. By strolling around our community without any security fences separating between us and our Arab neighbors, and by driving to work through the main road of an Arab village, we are sending out a powerful psychological message – we are here to stay. We will not be scared away or defeated by terrorism. We will not live in golden cages. We are living the redemption and will walk our land freely. This message, I believe, has a greater impact upon our long term national security than focusing the majority of our energies on means of self preservation. Real security, I believe, is ensured by willingness to live on the front line.

My thought process is abruptly halted by a knock on the door. I shake myself out of my thoughts and back into reality. My first client of the day has arrived. Looking at my watch, I think I’ll have to explore Israeli mentality further another time. 


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