I just got home from a wedding in a kibbutz. The bride was stunning, the food was great, the band was cliché and I danced like crazy. Little girls in pretty dresses were blowing bubbles and running around, getting in the way of the adults and trying to sneak pieces of cake when they could. The teenagers were pouring shots, the friends of the kallah were taking pictures, the scene was just as it would be at any other wedding in Israel.
Except for the part during the chuppah when they had to stop for a few minutes because the Iron Dome was intercepting a rocket, and the huge WHOOOSHH sound made it impossible to hear the ketubah. Except for when, before the toasts, the brother of the chatan read out a list of "what to do if" scenarios and explained where all the closest shelters were. Except for the part where the Code Red alarm sounded twice during dancing, and half the wedding party vanished.
I didn't really debate going to this wedding beforehand. I knew it was near Ashdod, I knew it was potentially dangerous, I knew there had been rockets earlier today. I've been keeping up with the news and was hoping the escalation would be over by tonight, but I knew the chances of that were pretty low. I didn't start panicking until I boarded the bus. Then the reality of the situation hit me and I started thinking about going home. I don't want to die, I thought. I don't want to be near a rocket when it hits the ground, I don't want to run to a shelter, I don't want to be scared for my life. Suddenly, everyone on the bus looked terrifying, every backpack and briefcase could've been holding a bomb, everyone wearing a sweatshirt was hiding something. I stood up and started getting my stuff together, ready to leave.
And then I realized what I should've been thinking the whole time. If I got off the bus right then and went home, they win. If I miss my friends wedding, if I'm too scared to take a 20 minute bus ride, the terrorists have accomplished their goal. They have taken control, the power is in their hands.
I've always said that I regret not going to the army. I say that I want to fight for my country. I want to show the world that I'm not afraid to die for something I believe in. I've argued passionately that Israel is something worth putting your life on the line for. I say these words all the time, but as I stood on the bus, debating my next move, I wondered if they were true. If I was brave enough to stand behind them. And I sat back down. Because I realized that THIS is the way I can fight back. I won't change my plans, I won't let my decisions be guided by fear, I won't jump every time I hear a loud noise.
I made a decision to make aliyah, and in that split second I went from being a citizen, a student, to a soldier. I don't have a uniform or a gun, I haven't been trained in warfare, but I can fight for my country by just living here. By not letting myself be afraid.
I went to the wedding tonight. There were three rockets that flew over my head, all intercepted by the Iron Dome. I didn't run when the alarm was sounded. I danced with the kallah and my friends, danced all night long until we were exhausted. We sang מי שמאמן לא מפחד and I closed my eyes and believed it. Hashem is protecting us. That's really all there is. We cannot be afraid.