Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Traffic Jam in Shilo

Shilo, with its population of only about four thousand, almost never has a traffic jam. Yesterday morning was out of the ordinary, though. Two policemen, a border police, and a guard were doing their best to keep traffic moving at the entrance of our village, but it wasn’t flowing. Hordes of parents were converging on the school, just opposite the Shilo entrance, keen to deliver their children back to the classroom after a two-month-long vacation. Was I thankful I’d come by foot!
Even though I have no children going to school I was determined to greet my grandson as he entered first grade. He was excited and eager, dressed nicely with a white shirt and the new shoes I’d bought for him.  We exchanged kisses and the ceremony began. There were several speeches and since they were geared to six and seven-year-olds they weren’t too long or boring. Then the music started and with it my tears.

I wasn’t crying because my grandson was passing a milestone. Nor was I crying because of nostalgic memories of my own children beginning school. No, I was crying because the song that was being played was Elad’s song*. Officially it’s called Ki Harbay, but in Itamar, where Elad Fogel lived and was murdered, they call it Elad’s song after him.
Elad  with friends at his Chanukah party several months before he was murdered.  
He was stabbed to death by Arab terrorists while sleeping in his bed on Shabbat night four years ago. Elad, hy’d, loved this song. So when the social workers and psychologists came to his nursery school to work with his buddies in the aftermath of the horror, his teacher made a circle with the children and they danced as they sang his song.

Whenever I hear it I think about Elad and his family. He never made it to first grade and that thought continues to hurt me. I looked around at the other parents and grandparents. Very few had tears in their eyes. Most were full of excitement and joy so I dried my face and joined in their enthusiasm.

Years ago my grandson’s father learned in the Shilo school with only six other boys in his class. At that time the Shilo school building consisted of four classrooms with another four trailers. Now the campus boasts rows of buildings. How we have grown! There were well over a hundred boys dressed in white shirts, going into first-grade, each one more precious than the next. That’s where I found my comfort.

In the end of the Torah portion last week we read of the commandment to remember and wipe out our enemy, Amalek**. (See Deuteronomy, Chapter 25, verses 17-19)  Amalek was the grandson of Esav, Jacob’s twin brother, the twin brother whom Esav had at one time sworn to murder after their father died. Thankfully, that did not happen but Esav’s animosity continued and was passed down. So much so that after the Children of Israel crossed through the Sea of Reeds, while all their Egyptian pursuers drowned and the world was in awe of the Jewish nation and HaShem, Amalek came to attack. (See Exodus, Chapter17, verses 8-16) Our sages teach us that Amalek’s aspiration was not to fight the Jewish people, but rather HaShem. This is why we are commanded to eradicate him and his nation.
As history progressed we have lost sight of who exactly is from the Amalek nation. Of course, sometimes it is easy to guess. Surely Hitler and the current rulers in Iran are descendants. No doubt the terrorists who murdered Elad, his baby sister, his older brother, his father, and his mother are also from the family of Amalek.

Unfortunately we haven’t yet wiped out Amalek and his evil, but they haven’t destroyed us either. Elad wasn’t able to enter first grade; however all over Israel thousands and thousands of Jewish children are beginning their education. That’s our revenge to Hitler and all the other anti-Semites in the world. They will never break us!   

*for more about the song see And After Tisha B’Av, August  5th, 2012
**and for more about Amalek see Amalek, March 13th, 2014

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