Naama Barak
April 14, Updated April 15

I began writing this last night, sitting on the sofa with a glass of wine in hand, about an hour after the IDF Home Command announced that my daughters won’t be going to preschool today. 

The reason: an Iranian missile threat.

While the threat materialized  – 350 Iranian UAVs, as well as missiles, were launched at Israel overnight – its outcome has been thankfully alright, so far. 

Israel and her allies managed to thwart almost all those projectiles before they touched ground, but it was a truly bizarre, unsettling and sleepless night over here.

Last week, ISRAEL21c’s editor and I discussed how strange and difficult it would be to celebrate Passover this year, with more than 130 people still held captive in Gaza, thousands more dead and so many soldiers risking their lives on the frontlines.

Now, we’ve added an existential threat to the reasons making it to my partner’s aunt and uncle’s Seder in Ra’anana somewhat of a challenge.

And while we’ll probably joke about this latest round of absurd reality at next week’s holiday with the extended family – all thankfully okay, tfu tfu tfu – present around the table, I wonder how much of a celebration it will actually be.

How, for example, can we tell the tale of becoming a free people in our land, when only a couple of hours away our fellow citizens, snatched by terrorists from their beds one Saturday morning six months ago, are rotting underground? Those still alive, that is, in a scandalous failure to return them home that is threatening to rip Israeli society even further apart.

How can we sing all the Passover hits at the top of our voices, knowing that so many families, probably even down the street, will be missing a loved one? Will they be setting an empty place for them, or just skipping the Seder altogether?

And how, I can’t quite fathom, am I meant to be celebrating around a beautiful, laden table, while tens of thousands of people are still evacuated from their homes, with no knowledge of when they’ll finally be able to safely return?

A Passover table setting with a floral centrepiece. Photo by LCRP via
A Passover table setting with a floral centrepiece. Photo by LCRP via

We really need a Seder

What I’m thinking, is that I have two young kids who would really benefit from a good old Seder. The family, the fun, the singing, the food – the holiday has lasted so magnificently because it really is a magnificent occasion. This could be an opportunity to show them that things are okay, even after the strangeness of last night.

And to the adults in the room, it could be an opportunity to remind ourselves that as a people, we’ve persevered through a pretty horrid history – with the older participants even having the Holocaust and the Second World War as childhood memories. Like they already know, we’ve come out stronger on the other side.

But while this whole coming out stronger thing is a mantra that I’ve been familiar with my entire life, I never thought I’d be among the generations who would have to witness and experience the pain of making it through. 

We will come out stronger, I hope, but also a whole lot sadder.

Maybe, and this would be the best-case scenario, Seder night will be a massive breather. 

For a few hours, we’ll be able to largely put aside this mess of reality and concentrate on being and celebrating with our family and friends. A few tears might be shed, but that’s alright. Knowing the family I’m going to celebrate with, there’s also going to be quite a bit of dark humor.

It’s traditional to end the Seder night with that ancient prayer, “Next year in Jerusalem.” As someone already in Jerusalem, I first of all hope that we will indeed be here to celebrate again next year. 

I also hope that by then we’ll be in the process of healing from these terrible times, and that some measure of comfort will find its way to the people needing it.

I wish you a happy holiday as can be, and don’t skimp on the wine.

More on Life

More on Tales from the heart