Lately, I have spent more time in the park with the kids. Before the war broke out, the park had been our favorite spot for a mid morning PE class, or a late afternoon chat with my Haredim friends and their numerous children. My friend Sara and I would sit down on a plaid and hand out fruits and treats to all the children that happened to be there at that time. Sometimes, we would feed as many as fifty kids at a time. Their five or six mothers would sometimes join us for a chat, but mostly would stay put. Their wide skirts and black capes too heavy and hot to move around a lot.
But when the war broke out it was too hot and uncomfortable to be out. The jungle gym in the playground would scorch tiny hands. The ground would burn bare feet. And the sirens, true or imagined, would hurt our ears. So we stayed hime, in the shade, hidden from the fear and tension.
My reappearance rose many an eyebrow. The last few weeks I have heard the same line over and over again: I knew, for sure, you had fled.
My heart knows the truth when I eagerly announce we had just been at home a lot because of the summer heat. I can not help but sounding proud and local when I state my courage. A little situation here and there will not keep us from staying till the end of our contract.
But when I lower my head and look at my hands in my lap, I sometimes add: I didn’t like the war.
And it is this last sentence that brings on a large variety of responses. With one similarity: acknowledgement and understanding. Who does like war? Nobody likes war.
Gone is the muscle talk of a few weeks ago. Gone the body language that speaks louder than words. Gone the fear, the anger, the screams of pain when one of theirs had been killed.
Suddenly, I hear more wise words than I have heard so far. From Amir Ran, who is the only Haredi man that will look me in the eye and talk to me. About Politics. About faith. About his trips to Goa before he became religious.
We are born as wild donkeys, Amir Ran told me today. And it is our duty to become what God wants us to become. We are born opposite of what we should be. Are capable of being. And sometimes it takes a lifetime to tame the donkey. If we manage to at all.
His words ring true to me. And are welcome, calm thoughts, when raising young kids.
And a hopeful thought when thinking about grown ups in parliaments.