Monday, March 10, 2008

Six degrees of separation

Sometimes less. In the Jewish world, very often less, as Soccer Dad (whose nephew learns at the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva) demonstrates (the following links are his -- and there are more).

One of my nephew's other cousins usually studied in the library on Thursday nights, but because it was Rosh Chodesh (the new Jewish month) he had gone to the Kotel (Western wall) and was out of harm's way.

I finally found out that one of the young men killed was
my nephew's roommate.

This isn't my nephew's first connection to a terror attack. In 2002 the family of one of his classmates was ambushed. His friend's
father, mother and brother were killed.

And it's not just that nephew. I'm taken aback by the number of terror victims that my brother's family had connections to.

His older brother used to study with the son of
Col. Dror Weinberg. Col. Weinberg was considered a rising star of the Israeli army and was religious too. He was killed in an ambush in Chevron.

My sister-in-law, a doctor, has worked with a brother of
Dr. Shmuel Gillis, a talented hematologist who was known for his treatment of both Jews and Arabs. (Barbara Sofer wrote "Who will care for Jamila now?" in his memory.)

And my brother was friends with Rabbi Shimon Biran, who had been the Rabbi of Kfar Darom in Gaza. And two and a half years ago, my brother had to watch his friend be
buried again.

Of course that's just a small sample of those who have been killed by terror in Israel. Still it gives a sense of the cost of this war against Israel and the degree to which it touches society as a whole.

This is an important element of the solidarity of the Jewish people. And, as our enemy has figured out better than many of us have, a vulnerability that is able to transmit pain and grief on an almost universal level ... to those who care, anyway.

In other words, it's a vulnerability that's also a strength. As my years increase, I become increasingly aware that we, as a people, have come close to perfecting the process of grieving, deeply and sincerely grieving, and then moving on. We've had to. And yet, we have never, ever, elevated death over life as a goal or an aspiration.

This is just one of the many things that make us better than our enemy. In spite of the tactical edge that it sometimes gives them, this is just one of the many reasons why we will prevail ... and they will not.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that you may live, you and your seed

-- Deuteronomy (devarim) 30:19