Watching Over Us By Elke David

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Watching Over Us

  
Evening descended upon our town, and I began to breathe again. The sky twinkled merrily; a glance upwards now wouldn’t tell you that a mere few minutes earlier, it had hosted a barrage of angry rockets. The calm, whistling evening breeze, so welcome after the heavy afternoon heat of a summer day in southern Israel, didn’t divulge that a few moments prior, it had carried the wail of a warning siren across the city. Our hearts scatter with the sound of that siren, our minds go blank, adrenaline pumps through our blood, pushing us to run. Run fast.

After two full days of sirens—days in which I absent-mindedly tried to go about normal life while nervously waiting for the next rocket attack—my husband and I had decided to go for a walk. Just a short—very short—excursion, to clear our heads and pretend it was all okay. In reality, our eyes darted at every turn, on the lookout for a safe place to duck into if a siren sounded. It was very much not okay. But we strolled along and spoke a bit and savored the stillness, even if it was amid the tension of living in a war zone.

We passed the park, void of the usual smell of nighttime barbecues and sounds of friends enjoying each other’s company. The swings were still, the benches eerily empty, the trees tall and lonely. We were trying not to rush, yet at the same time glancing upwards, sideways, listening for the sound of the siren.

In the distance, we could see a woman exiting an apartment complex, pushing a stroller with a bouncing little girl at her side. As they came closer, we saw the mother’s face, etched with worry, anxiety creasing her forehead. It was the face of all mothers of Israel. She pushed the stroller hurriedly, her little girl skipping to catch up.

Ima (Mommy)!” We heard the girl’s pure, sweet voice ring out into the night. “Ima, Hashem yishmor otanu (Mommy, G‑d will watch over us)?”

I stopped right there in my tracks. My mouth dropped open.

Ken (Yes),” her mother replied. Then they passed us by, and I couldn’t hear the rest of the conversation, if there was one. But what I heard was more than enough. This innocent little girl had struck a chord within me that had been so oddly silent for too long. I had given full permission for despair and fear to eat away at me for the past two days. But I had G‑d! How had I forgotten? I recited the morning prayers every day, I read Psalms for the safety of my nation, yet the fact that G‑d was truly watching over us had been pushed away by the worries consuming me.

I turned to my husband. “Did you hear that?!” I said, awe and excitement and wonder hitting me all at once, “Hashem yishmor otanu!

He smiled. “Sometimes we need a small child to remind us.”

 
Elke David (nee Zoberman) is a newly married kollel wife, proud Chicago native, and even prouder aspiring brave Israeli. She lives in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi, Israel, with her husband.
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