Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lefachot Zeh

Lefachot Zeh - at least this.

From Stam, from the Jerusalem Press, no link:
A DIFFERENT SORT OF "FUN DAY."
by SUSIE WEISS
It was the first day of the Pesach vacation, a day
dreaded by Jewish mothers throughout the land. This is the
day every mother knows that the majority of her Pesach
preparations had better be darn near complete, since the
children are now home from school throughout the duration to
"help." We have our goals to accomplish each day,
interspersed with some fun rewards here and there to those
who are successful. The countdown to Pesach has begun.

As we go through our morning routine, my 13-year old
daughter, Ayelet, is particularly excited today as she
anticipates quality time with Mom - at the Luna Park in Tel
Aviv. Bubbie, visiting from the States for the Pesach
holiday, cannot for the life of her understand how I have
nothing better to do today than go to an amusement park with
my daughter. "Doesn't she have girlfriends she can go with?"
I'm lectured.

Fortunately, Ayelet has no girlfriends that can share this
Fun Day with her at the Luna Park. Today is strictly for
siblings of fallen soldiers, sponsored by the Israel Defense
Forces, at no charge to the participants. The army wants to
make sure that bereaved siblings growing up in the shadow of
their fallen brothers and sisters are not neglected or
pushed aside by eternally grieving parents. They are
entitled to have some fun, too, in spite of the tragedy that
has touched their lives.

So when our son Yedidya backed out of the day because of
excessive homework, I couldn't let Ayelet go alone. So, off
to the Luna Park we went.

As we entered the park, we heard peals of laughter and
screams of excitement coming from inside. We found our names
on a neatly prepared list, as a bright-eyed young cadet
matter-of-factly asked us, "which unit?"
My mind immediately jumped to Ari's beret ceremony, and I
recalled photographing him from every angle as he wore that
bright green beret with such pride. "Nachal," I answered. We
were directed to the appropriate sign-in table - ours was
between the Golani unit and the Air Force - where we waited
patiently for our turn. We were handed an envelope with
what seemed like enough free food coupons to feed the entire
IDF for a day, and we were told to enjoy ourselves but to be
back at 3 pm for our gifts.

So off we marched. As I was dragged from one
stomach-churning ride to another, the scene before us was
surreal. The place was packed with kids and families, as
well as soldiers who work with bereaved families. The IDF
marching band was winding its way around the park throughout
the day, while costumed dancers and entertainers spoiled the
kids with prizes, balloons, and candy. Children and adults
from all segments of society - including several Druse
families as well - had their hands full of cotton candy,
stuffed animals, and food, running madly from ride to ride,
packing in as much as possible in this one magical day.

My head was spinning with this scene of a typical day at the
amusement park, yet I knew that each and every one of us was
here for the same grim reason: Each of us will soon weep at our son or brother's
grave on Yom Hazikaron. Ari was our ticket for the day, and
I hated it. Who were we all fooling? Even Ayelet saw through
the facade as she commented, "Do they think this is going to
make it better?" But our kzinat nifgaim (bereavement
representative) from the army on site, explained what we
already knew.
Nothing will make it better. Ever. But, "l'fachot zeh" -
this is the least we can do.
Armed with new and expensive back-packs as gifts, we were
ushered to the bandstand to "enjoy" the strains of
Subliminal, an apparently well-known Israeli rapper that
performed songs about peace, an end to violence, and other
things that I don't know how anyone understands the words
to. (To my shock, Ayelet knew most of the lyrics!) I looked
around at the crowd:
Religious and secular, dark-skinned and light, rich and
poor, veteran Israelis and those of us new to this land -
all gathered so that they could pretend, for just one day,
that we have not a care in the world. Today belongs to the
children, who we are still blessed to be with. And the
Israeli army is here today to remind us of that. And I
wonder,
"Is there another army in the world that does
something like this?"
Taking the bus home, exhausted, loaded with souvenirs and
still nauseous from all the "fun" rides, Ayelet thanks me
for a wonderful day. I feel bad as the tears well up in my
eyes as I tell her to rest on the bus ride home. She knows
all too well that Fun Day is over - it's time to return to
Life.

Dear friends: At a time when we unfortunately have so little
to be proud of in our government officials and the image
they project, be proud of the Fun Days at the Luna Park, and
the attention lavished upon families of fallen heroes. And
know that, as much as possible, we are being taken care of.
L'fachot zeh - at least this.

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