War Meditations in the Produce Aisle

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Finished Plate
08 Jan 2009

imageI am in the supermarket in the late afternoon, choosing cucumbers and peppers. My preschool age son sits happily in the supermarket trolley, munching on bamba. The supermarket loudspeaker announces a sale on chicken. I study my fellow shoppers, wondering what they are thinking. Perhaps they are wondering whether they should take advantage of this sale and make chicken for dinner. Or perhaps they are thinking what I am thinking, silently meditating as they push their trolley through the mind-numbing sterility of the supermarket.

I wish that I too could make an announcement on the loudspeaker. “Attention fellow shoppers. Just an hour away from our quiet little suburb, a war is raging. Rockets are falling, disturbing the evening routine, causing the soup to be abandoned and left to boil away on the stove as the family runs to the closest bomb shelter. Remember them as you eat dinner.”

My family must eat. To feed them, I must shop. Yet inside me, something rebels against all this normalcy. We are at war. Those on the coast are under constant siege. The hospitals have moved their operating rooms underground. How can it be that we walk around freely here, enjoying the late afternoon sun without fear of sirens?

I check the news constantly for an update from the front lines. We are backstage in this battle; we continue about the business of living, occupied with the mundane and the routine. The news is our lifeline to the surreal events unfolding a few miles down the highway.

Yet our town is still affected. People seeking refuge are arriving here daily. I scan the faces of strangers, straining to identify the refugees. Was it only two years since the last time we were at war? Then too, many sought refuge in our city, as bombs rained down on their homes in the North.

Then it was summer. Now it is winter. Except for these small differences, it is possible to fall backwards through a window in time. It is happening again. Unbelievably, Jewish families are once again being uprooted from their homes. They take only what they can carry, and run. There is no time to think, no time to decide what to pack. They grab what they can and hope to escape before the next siren.

I hold my Tehillim, and whisper prayers for Jews I have never met. Their names won’t make the headlines. There is no way to hear every story. Only a few make the headlines. Yet there are so many lives that have been uprooted. In the air I breath, I feel their fear. I breath in their panic and confusion. I breath out a spiraling arc of prayer.

Please God, a stable and safe home for every Jewish family, an evening meal uninterrupted by rockets, and an end to the terrorists that threaten us from every border.

Tzippora Price is a writer and a child & family therapist. She made aliya eleven years ago, and lives with her family in Ramat beit Shemesh, where she works in private practice. She also works in the children’s division of The Family Institute in Har Nof, Jerusalem. Her articles and fiction have appeared in Connections, Hamodia, Horizons, Natural Jewish Parenting, and Yated Ne’eman. In addition, she teaches workshops in creative writing, and therapeutic journal writing.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.