Note: Edited slightly for formatting, etc.
On the night of September 9th, 2003, a 20-year old bride anxiously awaited the coming morning. It was the night before her wedding and she counted down the minutes until she would stand under her chupah and become the wife of a man she loved with all her neshama. Her father had just returned from New York on a medical conference and the two of them decided to go out for a heart-to-heart talk on this incredible night. They made their way to Cafe Hillel on Emek Refaim. As she entered the restaurant, her father sensed that something wasn't right. He noticed a man entering the Cafe right after his daughter did, and then the panic set in. He ran in to get his daughter out, but it was too late. The blast went off and Dr. Applebaum was killed instantly. The bride remained in critical condition. I remember when the call came in from my best friend. "Naavah is in a coma. Her father is dead. Tomorrow is her wedding and she doesn't even know her father is dead."
by Gila Kanal
Naavah Applebaum died that same night. Her wedding day became her funeral.
This experience left me in a state of shock. I remember a few nights after Naavah's funeral I called my Abba in a fit of hysterics. I cried, "Abba, I know what my tafkid is in Olam HaZeh." My father calmly answered, "Yes shefile'? What is that?" "I want to die Al Kidush HaShem" I sobbed. My father is a man of never ending patience, wisdom, and compassion. He took a deep breath and said, "Gila, I think I have something even harder for you." "What do you mean?" I asked. "What could possibly be harder then that?" "Try living Al Kidush HaShem", my father replied.
As many of you know, I am fighting. I am fighting with all my heart and soul to live in Israel. I have chosen a profession that I have heard is good in Israel, I have applied to schools that are only in Israel, and I do not date men who do not see a future in Israel. Recently people have been asking me, "Why. Why Israel?" Why have I chosen to plant my seeds and my roots so firmly in this country? There are the obvious reasons: Israel is my Home. It is a Mitzvah to live here. G-d promised us this land. And on and on... But that is not why I am writing this letter. Over the past few months dozens upon dozens of people have asked me, "Gila, why are you making Aliyah"?
It was then that it hit me. The fact that we are asking that question is a perfect illustration of where our generation stands today. No one asks, "Gila, why are you dating? Why are you so desperately searching for your soul mate?" It is understood that I am half a person and I am looking for my other half to complete me. There was a time, not too long ago, when Israel too was a Given. There was a time not too long ago, when people breathed, ate, and slept with the word "Tzion" on their lips. There was a time when the world held its breath as the votes were counted, 33 for, 13 against, and 10 abstentions, and on November 29th, 1947, the UN voted for a Jewish State. There was a time when we, as a nation, understood that the State of Israel was an absolute necessity, and we would never survive another Holocaust without her.
Those times are over. Am Yisrael has entered a new era. It has suddenly occurred to me that the battle we are fighting is harder then any other battle that has been fought in the history of the Jewish people. I am part of the first generation to be born into a world where the State of Israel is now officially taken for granted. I cannot think of anything harder. How do you teach someone to appreciate something they have always had? How often do we look down at our legs and think, "Wow! Thank G-d I have these things!!! Moving would be pretty hard without them!" How often do you feel your pulse and shiver with excitement that you are living and your heart is beating? If we can manage to forget the most essential parts of our bodies how can we be expected to remember the less essential parts of our lives? Israel is a necessity that we have waited 2000 years for. Close your eyes and imagine the world without her. Do we even remember what that means anymore? We are so lost. We have entered the generation where we actually ask the question, "Why are you making Aliyah?"
'Im Eshkachech Yerushalayim'We have truly forgotten. 60 years ago on a cold November day, she became Ours. 60 years ago. Do you realize how recently that is? 40 years ago we got back the old city of Jerusalem. These things happened in our parents' lifetimes!!! We are talking about the year 1967! This is recent history. Since as far back as we can remember, the world has been dying for Israel. Since the establishments of the Aliyot to Israel, the settlers have been sweating, working, and fighting for her. Since the second the State was established and the Arabs attacked when Israel was a mere SECONDS old, we have lost thousands of neshamot bleeding, battling, and dying for this land.
Yet, through all this, we have forgotten. We have forgotten what it feels like to live in a world without a home. We have forgotten what it feels like to be a nation without a land. We have forgotten what it feels like to long for something we are missing. We have come to take it all for granted. Now suddenly, all the bleeding has stopped. The weapons have been put down. We no longer feel like Israel is fighting for her very existence. We have stopped dying. But, in my opinion, the Real Fight has just begun. Am Yisrael, listen very carefully. We are the first generation dedicated with the task of LIVING for Israel. We are the very first generation granted the luxury of going to a disco for Israel, sitting in a cafe for Am Yisrael, and having children for Midinat Yisrael. We are the first generation to have the ability to forget and take her existence for granted. I cannot think of a harder battle. We have forgotten a world without Israel. We have forgotten what it feels like to scream, "If I forget Yershalayim... let my right hand be cut off" with a passion and intensity that can only be felt by those who DON'T HAVE YERUSHALAYIM! We have forgotten what it means to say, "L'Shana HaBah B'Yerushalayim" and truly wonder if we will ever get to see her golden stones in our lifetime.
That, my friends, is why I have decided to make Aliyah. Because, for whatever reason, I do not want to forget. I am deeply aware that this Land, Country, Soil, and Earth, were fought for in order for ME to continue that fight by living here, and I never want to forget that. Every time I walk through Sha'ar Tzion and see the stones riddled with bullet holes, a lump forms in my throat as I realize how many soldiers have died so I can walk through the streets. We live in a very scary time. We live in a world where what we have actually gotten what we have been praying for for 2000 years and yet we cannot see it. We live in a world where our Dream has truly come true, yet we continue to sleep. Someone recently told me that a person can be so caught up in his/her life, that their absolute perfect b'sheret can stand right in front of them and they will never see him/her. Imagine the frustration and pain when someone realizes that they were too blind to see that their soul mate stood 2 inches from their face and they lost him forever. Imagine if your deepest fantasy came true, yet you were too busy dreaming about it to even notice it had become a reality.
Israel's existence is not set in stone. A few miles away there is a man who lives to destroy us. He has missiles pointed at the heart of this country and will stop at nothing to wipe her off the map. We live among nations whose goal is to push us into the sea. We thrive on the back of a world that resents our mere presence. Yet through all this, we are Here. We are Alive. We are Home. Open your Eyes! Am Yisrael WAKE UP!! We have a HOME! We are BACK!! Where are you!? Israel is at war, only this time the enemy no longer comes from without. It comes from within. We truly are our greatest enemy. The doors to our salvation have been thrown open, yet no one seems to be running. I am deeply confident that if we choose this moment to finally stand together and live for Am Yisarel, Torat Yisrael, and Midinat Yisrael there would be nothing that could stop us. We are no longer fighting against guns and cannons. We are now fighting the world of materialism, comfort, and ease. We are fighting Ourselves.
Let me make this very clear. I am NOT writing this letter to tell the world to make Aliyah. Everyone has their own lives and I have NO RIGHT to EVER tell anyone that their life is here. I understand that Israel is NOT for everyone. I am writing this letter to beg you to not forget. I am writing this letter to plead with you to continue to appreciate, support, protect, and defend Israel. I am writing this letter to wake up the world to the reality that our Dream has come true, but we will all miss it if we continue to sleep! I am writing this letter to remind the world of a time without Israel and how easy it is to go back to that reality if we do not Live for her now. I am writing this letter because people asked me 'Why?' and I thought I should answer.
'Im Eshkachech Yerushalayim'I shiver because I realize we may already have... 4 years ago, on a warm night in September, a young bride was torn to pieces. Her body was left a bloody mangled mess on the streets of Baka. She died so we can Live. Please do not make her death be in vain. As I type this, there are countless soldiers putting their lives on the line so we can have the freedom to live for this country. There is truly only one way to repay them. Live for Israel. After all those who have died Al Kidush HaShem it is time we started Living. I am begging each and every one of you to remember the world without a Home. For 2000 years we cried for her. Am Yisrael, WE HAVE HER. SHE IS OURS. FIGHT FOR HER! LIVE FOR HER! We cannot lose her again! After all those years of praying, yearning, hoping, and dreaming, the prayers have been answered and the dreams have come true! WAKE UP!! Stop Dreaming!!! She is OURS!! We don't need to dream anymore. This is Reality. This is Life. It is time we started Living.
B'Zchut Aliyat Neshamot of all the people who have died fighting, living, and yearning for Am Israel, Torat Yisrael, and Midinat Yisrael,
Am Yisrael please Wake Up...