It’s difficult to think positively these days.
But with great honor, and the zechut of welcoming our brand-new great-granddaughter, born October 13 and named in shul today, I must look out the window and see that there are some rays of sunshine visible through the oppressive and dark clouds. And indeed there are.
Our beautiful Sophie has brought them to us.
First, to us, is her remarkable arrival, a full month early. From this I deduce that she will be a dynamo, a girl, then woman, on the run, eager to get the job done, full speed ahead. Don’t procrastinate. Dispense with all the planning. Here I am, she will say, hineni, ready to learn and play and love and laugh and be integral to two quite large, seriously committed Jewish families, Ima’s and Abba’s. It sounded, she thought from her room in the womb, like there was lots of stuff going on. Time to join.
With the powers of Zoom and the internet, as well as in person, Sophie’s relatives lined up to greet her in Israel, India, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, each awestruck, as the loving response to a new baby always is. Of course. It’s a miracle. It’s always a miracle. I see her face, and it is beautiful, like her mother’s but with a strong resemblance to her father as well. I look at her hands and wonder what she will become. Her fingers are long. A pianist? A surgeon? I rush ahead and dream about her future. May it be long and bright and healthy and filled with joy and meaning and accomplishment. May she never know the ordeal that our people are enduring right now, and how badly we need this happy moment. Thank you, Sophie!
I look forward with the highest hopes for her soon to meet Uncle Aaron, her father’s youngest brother. At this time Aaron, the fifth of five sons, and his fellow tzanchanim, paratroopers, are stationed somewhere in Israel. We do not know what the plans for their unit are to be, but may he safely complete his mission, along with all of his fellow chayalim in the Israel Defense Forces. And we hope and pray that Sophie’s birth coincides with the total destruction of the evil forces of Chamas. That will certainly be good news.
Surely, there is other good news. A little while ago, we were in Manhattan and we saw a beautiful and serendipitous phenomenon. A young man was loading his travel gear into a taxi, and we guessed he was one of the thousands of Jews rushing to Israel, to deliver goods and to rejoin their army units. As we passed the taxi, still loading, we could see his many packages with their Hebrew writing. I hollered out to him, “B’hatzlecha.” He smiled and made a victory sign, a real-life living emoji. It is an amazing accomplishment that in our troubles, fit and able young people, mostly men who have completed IDF service and are now miluimniks (reservists), are racing to Israel to serve. No matter that they may have many plans for the here and now. No matter that their very lives may be at stake. School to finish. Children. Careers that do better when not disrupted. All of it will be frozen in time, and they will board charter flights or El Al, and jet out to Ben Gurion Airport, to rejoin IDF units. They are heading back to the homeland to do what has to be done. And it will be done! Thy will be done!
And the news of our people’s togetherness, at least at this moment, is remarkable. To paraphrase Kohelet, there is a time for anger and a time for peace. There is a time to loathe and a time to love. Now we are in unity, seriously settling the score with a vicious enemy. Soon we will be victorious, capable of uniting and hugging one another. Then we will, once again, have time to argue! We Jews always have something to argue about. But not now!
Something else amazing is going on in the spirit of our one-ness. Here’s an example. Our daughter Pam and her husband Matt are the owners of a magnificent Jerusalem penthouse, with breathtaking views from an expansive merpesit, all set up with an enormous kosher kitchen, outfitted with the latest in equipment. Since they had just returned to New Jersey prior to any inkling of war, the apartment is now unoccupied. Not for long, however. They are lending it, with no charge and no contracts, to a couple from the South of Israel, near Gaza, for as long as is needed. This is a gift, and the other couple is being treated like family. A majestic and superbly gracious act!
Many families who live part of the year elsewhere are doing similar acts of chesed. And chesed is precisely what this is. We could not be prouder of our family and of all those others whose generosity is so exceptional.
There is a Facebook Group to which I belong. It’s called Secret Jerusalem. Even in the absence of war, people request free lodging, Shabbat meals, and other services. The positive responses are simply inspirational, even in peacetime. But, in this time of shattered shalom, the sheer magnanimity of these hosts is astounding. We are one. Really and truly.
What other good news is there to share? How about our own United States? I’m proud to be an American. Joe Biden has led the nation into a full-throated, uniquely American total support of Israel, and issued stark condemnation, without hint of subterfuge or subtlety, of Chamas. Thank you, President Biden. You’ve got our back! Thank you thank you thank you.
As for me, I’m a proud grandmother of a chayal, a proud Jew, a proud Israeli, and a proud American. I just couldn’t be prouder!
So, is there good news? Yes indeed. Is there more needed? Emphatically, yes indeed. We await the safe return of Aaron, heralding the successful conclusion of this dreadful war. After all, Aaron has to meet Sophie.
You can reach me at email@example.com.
Rosanne Skopp of West Orange is a wife, mother of four, grandmother of 14, and great-grandmother of three. She is a graduate of Rutgers University and a dual citizen of the United States and Israel. She is a lifelong blogger, writing blogs before anyone knew what a blog was!