I Stand with Israel
Guest Commentary by Lindsay Trombly
Writing this column is a challenge — I admit — it’s hard to reflect on such a terrible thing that’s happening in the world and compartmentalize my feelings.
On Oct. 7, when I woke up and checked my phone it didn’t feel like a normal Saturday. A hole was created in my chest. When I saw Israel was attacked by Hamas, my heart sank deep in my chest. And it has hit me hard. Way harder than I expected.
A few months ago, I was in the beautiful land of Israel on my birthright trip. For those you who don’t know, these trips wouldn’t be possible without donors who provide birthright trips to young adults all over the U.S. who are between the ages of 18 and 26 who are Jewish in some sort of way. Whether both of their parents are Jewish, or just one, they are able to apply for this trip of a lifetime. This opportunity is entirely paid for by donors including airfare, hotel stays, activities and two meals a day.
The purpose of the trip is to help participants learn more about their identity. And it did that for me.
Experiencing My Birthright Trip
For two weeks, I was completely submerged in the culture of Israel and met so many incredible people. I met and made friends with others from the U.S. (most of the participants on my trip were from the east coast). But not only that, we bonded with a few Israeli soldiers who were just like us. And what I mean by that is — they aren’t much different than any other 23 year old. They have their interests in music and food, and they do fun activities in their free time. They aren’t what I expected or what I think is a typical stereotype of what an Israeli soldier is.
Not only that, my tour guide, Daniel, showed us around the beautiful country, educating us, cracking jokes and taking care of us to make sure during every minute of every day that we were safe.
And now, these exact Israeli soldiers who I call my friends, and even my tour guide, are serving and fighting Hamas, a terrorist organization in the Middle East.
We visited the Yam Vashem in Israel, which is the Holocaust Museum and it was such a sad somber experience. I felt the pain that my ancestors lived through in that museum, and when I was walking, all I kept thinking was I hope something like that never happens again.
And now it has.
Visiting Mt. Herzl Cemetery
That same day, we went to Mt. Herzl, which is a large cemetery in Israel. Tons of soldiers are buried there, and every day, they add more and more bodies. Walking past every tombstone I could see their ages, and they were all extremely young. 18, 19, 20, 21 … I kept looking at these names and ages and thinking to myself their lives were cut short.
But they did it for freedom and to protect their country. The people living in this country have a whole different aspect on life, and I feel like they know how to truly treasure it.
And on top of that, one of the days in Israel I got to stand right outside the border of Gaza and stand in a town where citizens were fearful every day that maybe their life would be taken. And the town now — is obliterated.
Not only that, my group also had the opportunity to talk to a resident in Gaza and learned they live in poverty. However, Israel aides Gaza in giving them electricity and water just to help people survive. And most of the people there don’t want to live in poverty or in that country, they would rather leave if they could.
I admit, I was never educated in any of the Middle Eastern conflict before this trip. But now, I have such a bigger understanding. I mean — I saw the country with my own eyes.
Being Jewish in Idaho
I live in Idaho and the Jewish population is small. I haven’t met many people who are also Jewish. And this trip helped me connect with others who understand and relate to being Jewish. Especially living in the country that we do.
Plus, being Jewish isn’t just a religion. It’s a culture. And every day I worry about the citizens in Israel because I feel so connected to them. None of them deserve this war or to die.
And now. I feel isolated again. All of my close friends here aren’t Jewish, and they don’t understand. Only a select few checked in on me to see how I was doing, but not all of them did. For those that didn’t — I am extremely hurt.
I know people who aren’t Jewish don’t relate to the feelings I do, but at least talk about the situation and address it. Give your Jewish friends a hug, too. They need it during this time.
I feel so grateful to have gone to Israel and to have made the connections I have. And every day I hope and pray for their safety. And the safety of my people.
The views expressed in this opinion column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FāVS News. FāVS News values diverse perspectives and thoughtful analysis on matters of faith and spirituality.