It wasn’t really a conscious decision to stop listening to the news; it creeped up from somewhere beneath the kitchen floor as I washed dishes one day. Sleep had become difficult, due to the peppering drone of helicopters hovering the dark skies, searching for the [respective] day’s terrorists and their abettors. Ambulances and border police raced past, and I’d heard enough. Facebook contacts keep me superficially appraised about what is happening, and the husband lobs a nightly tidbit or two about who said what about Israel in the UN that day. It’s enough. Dinner, a glass of wine, and an episode of a made-for-television series provides enough excitement for me these days.
I used to weigh in regularly to the filth, rage, distrust and polemics that seep from the pages of others. But as both a former preacher and singer in the choir, I’ve suddenly grown tired. My husband knows where I stand regarding the upcoming U.S. elections, and what I think about Israel and her current leadership. We disagree a bit, but this does not alter our relationship. My Facebook wall reveals nothing of these opinions. No pics of flag-burning, out-of-control rhetoric, mocking or telling others how to vote. I care. Deeply. But not enough to injure friendships.
We observed The Ninth of Av (Tisha B’Av) last month. Throughout history, frightening events occurred on this date, including the blasphemous reports about Israel to Moses from the spies, the Babylonian destruction of the First Temple, the Roman destruction of the Second Temple, the Bar Kochba revolt, the start of the First Crusade, the expulsion of Jews from England, the Inquisitions in Spain and Portugal, declaration of war on Germany by Britain and Russia (resulting in World War I), the deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka, and the deadly bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.
The Ides of March has nothing on Tish B’Av . . . . .
Except for Tisha B’Av, not much happens between Shavuot—receiving the Torah—and Rosh Hashanah—gratitude, atonement and reconnecting to the Source of all good. Why stick something so obscure between two show-stoppers?
May I suggest that this might be a time for silence? Reflection and noiselessness by which we can better “hear” that which has become drowned out by 24/7 news bulletins? Perhaps during this “season of screaming” it is time to shut out media’s noisemakers, and listen to the voices of our children, grandchildren, parents and friends. Revisit the dreams we dreamed together with partners—both present and gone—and hear the sighs of neighbors who may not have enough food or companionship. And maybe, just maybe, we can demand a bit more from ourselves by slamming the door on pulpit bullies/occupiers of national-stages who would frighten us, divide us, make us ugly and—when done—abandon us to, alone, pick up the pieces of our lives that deserved their protection all along.
New York-born Andrea Simantov is a mother of six who moved to Jerusalem in 1995. She frequently lectures on the complexity and magic of life in Jerusalem and can be contacted at email@example.com.