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My heart is in the east and I'm at the end of the west

Itiya Schall״ליבי במזרח ואנוכי בסוף מערב״

"My heart is in the east and I'm at the end of the west". These words were written by Rabbi Yehuda Halevi during the Middle Ages as a poem of yearning to the state of Israel.  Rabbi Yehuda Halevi was a Spanish Jewish poet and philosopher and is considered one of the greatest Hebrew poets. 

I hear these words over and over in my head during the horrific past months in Israel.  One might think that growing up in an intense country like Israel, people would get used to unstable situations like these.  That it doesn’t shake your whole world each and every time - there is some truth to this.  In my twenty + years living in Jerusalem, I have somewhat gotten used to it.  Whenever I hear about an incident, my heart stops for a split second….then I hear from my friends and family.  Only when I know my family and friends are safe, can I go on with my life, as much as possible.  

These days, being far away from my country, watching in the media photos of my violated hometown. The stabbings in the streets that I used to walk on every day.  The shootings on the bus that I used to take to work, and just today a young man in his twenties was killed in stabbing in west bank gas station. He is the twenty-third Israeli casualty since the wave of violence broke out in October. Yesterday, Hadar Buchris, 21, was killed in a stabbing attack at the west bank’s Gush Etzion junction.

Last Thursday  there were two more terror attacks.  The first in Tel-Aviv, in my own office building where I used to work just a few months ago, two Israelis were killed in a stabbing attack; Reuven Aviram, 51, from Ramle and Rabbi Aharon Yesiav, 32, from Tel-Aviv.  The second terror attack took place in the West Bank where three people were killed.  Shadi Arfah was a Palestinian from the village of Dir Samat near Hevron, Yaakov Don from Alon Shvut, a father of four and a teacher, and an 18 years old US citizen Ezra Schwarts.  Ezra was an American Yeshiva student from Massachusetts studying the year abroad at Yeshivat Ashreino in Bet-shemesh.  He was killed while volunteering - delivering food parcels to Israeli soldiers. 

Each and every time I hear this type of news, my heart misses a beat.  Although Houston is slowly becoming a new home for me, I can't help but feel as passionate as Rabbi Yehuda Halevi words in his poem - My heart is in the east, in Israel, in my hometown Jerusalem, and I'm at the end of the west.  

May they rest in peace.

Itiya