Monday, March 14, 2011

Tragedy in the Eyes of a Five-Year-Old

It's difficult to explain just how personally people feel the terrible terrorist attack this past week in Itamar. It's not only all over the news; here people relate in an individual way. I get the sense that in the States (and elsewhere) it's sad, but it's a distant news item. Living here now, I understand how much more pervasive things are. I'll illustrate with a short conversation I had with my five-year-old driving him to gan (kindergarten) this morning.

Five-year-old: Abba, did you go to the sad place in Yerushalayim yesterday?
Me: No. What sad place are you talking about? (He was clearly talking about the funeral of the Fogel family on Har Hamenuchot, attended by tens of thousands.)
Five-year-old: Well, my gannenet went yesterday.
Me: Oh? What did she tell you?
Five-year-old: She said that on Friday night, a family, after they finished and went to sleep, some goyim came into their house and killed them, and the little baby, and the two boys ran away from the aravim (Arabs), and the sister also came home and ran away too.
Me: Did you say Tehillim?
Five-year-old: Yes.
Me: How did it make you feel? Did it make you feel scared?
Five-year-old: No. Just sad.

In America, we would have insisted that the school administration immediately suspend the kindergarten teacher for raising such a painful and frightening topic with a group of five-year-old children. I'm still not sure how to react, but I think that the attitude is that the atmosphere in Israel is so pervasive, that children intuitively know that something is wrong, and it's better to get things out in the open and let children talk about it, than wonder what's bothering everyone around them.