As the hourly barrages of rockets continue from Gaza to Israel, I can’t help but focus simultaneously on my own personal challenge, though it be of little significance in comparison- my big, hot, third trimester of pregnancy, showing all the signs of “advanced maternal age,” according to my doctor. Feeling helpless and a world away from the conflict, I’ve tried to channel my physical difficulties into sympathy for those living in and trying to protect the Jewish State.
The impetus for making these connections came when I began feeling guilty for complaining about little things like being unable to reach an itchy mosquito bite on my ankle, or having to refrain from pretty much anything fluffy and white, anything that’s not protein or brown rice (I call it torture-rice) due to gestational diabetes. I’m pregnant with my fourth child, an experience that has been a far cry from my first pregnancy, fourteen years ago when my husband and I were living in Jerusalem. I had the body of a twenty-three-year-old, a baby having a baby. But I know that however great my discomfort now, however swollen my feet, however sharp the pains in my joints and lower back, I am safe. My family and I live a peaceful life in America and in times like these, when all I can do is hope and pray, I feel guilty for living under this relative safety when the Israelis are under attack.
With the heat and humidity of late July setting in, and my abdomen growing into a formidable thing that generally enters the room about thirty seconds before the rest of me, I’ve forced myself to use the constant discomfort as a reminder of what our brothers and sisters in Israel are facing on a daily basis. When my legs puff up and rub together from the humidity, I am reminded of the inescapable desert heat the IDF must fight through. When I see people in the park exercising and recall that it’s been many months since I dutifully shook whatever I was supposed to be shaking in Zumba class, I feel a deep sense of jealousy. But then I realize there are fellow Jews spending entire days running back and forth from bomb shelters, fearing for their very lives.
While I consider my body its own kind of “war zone” right now, I know where the big difference lies. I can count the weeks I have left on one hand. I know this physical discomfort is a mere blip in the scheme of this lifecycle. I know with certainty that my blood sugar will return to its normal levels and hopefully I’ll remember my old work-out routines well enough to shout “Zummmmbaaa” on cue with the rest of the undulating chicas.
I wish I could say the same for our beloved Israel. If only we had some sort of imminent guarantee of finality of the fighting and unending terror attacks. Despite the tremendous Jewish unity, acts of kindness, and extra Mitzvos performed across the world in the merit of the soldiers and Israeli’s, there is still no end in sight. But for now, even if only to console myself, prayer, along with these small attempts at sympathy, this seemingly trivial alignment of my pain with theirs, is all I’ve got. Kind of like the State of Israel. As Jews, it too, is all we’ve got.