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GAZA WAR DIARY: 20 JUNE 2024

I just read a speech given this week by Shaul Goldstein, CEO of Noga – which runs Israel’s electricity network, about the shortages Israel might face in the event of an all-out war with Hezbollah. According to him, the shutdown of our grid is not impossible and would make the country unlivable.

Can’t tell you how that cheered me up (not)! Sent me straight to Amazon for a solar cooker, emergency flashlight (solar with crank) and emergency radio (crank, solar, flashlight and phone charger). Cheaper than a generator, which in any case would need fuel and I’m not about to store huge amounts of flammable liquids which would prove more of a problem than a solution…

Luckily, the day before I read this I attended a memorable event that really did cheer me up immensely: my beautiful granddaughter Mattan’s high school graduation ceremony at the Yachad High School in Modi’in.

Such a special school! The name, Yachad, means “together” in Hebrew. As its website says: “Yachad High School operates from the understanding that Israeli society is multi-voiced, and it seeks to give space to this diversity, since only by giving expression to the variety of voices, and to a dialogue between them, can one truly learn… The school seeks to produce graduates who know how to listen and maintain an open dialogue with the other, and see the Jewish heritage in all its shades as a treasure with the help of which a better society can be maintained.”

Looking around at the audience, I’d say they’ve pretty much succeeded. Knitted skullcaps, and religious hair coverings mingled with girls wearing barely there prom dresses under their gowns.

Principal Sagiv Elbaz gave a really moving speech. I wish I could remember everything he said. He paid homage to the graduates who have fallen in this war, and wished those standing behind him in their graduation caps and gowns a meaningful, rich life, and that they will always feel the school is a home they can return to and visit.

As I sat in the audience with my son and daughter in-law and other grandchildren watching Mattan’s shining, beautiful face as she accepted her diploma and a hug from her teachers, I couldn’t help feel a shiver. There was so much beauty, so much promise, so much intelligence, and passion, and patriotism, and love in the 120 members of the Class of 2024. There is so much that they can contribute and so much they deserve to enjoy and experience.

I’m sure this must be true of all graduating high school classes. But for our young people, going out into a world exploding with irrational hatred, filled with deranged genocidal antisemites whose own young people are taught to look forward to nothing more wonderful than martyrdom, there is an added sense of challenge – and peril.

Right now, the world is not a welcoming place, open to all they can give, all they deserve to receive.

When I was writing my last book, The Enemy Beside Me, doing research on the Holocaust in Lithuania, I came across a book about an essay contest held in Eastern Europe in 1939 by YIVO (an organization that preserves, studies, and teaches the cultural history of Jewish life throughout Eastern Europe, Germany, and Russia) that invited young Jews my granddaughter’s age to express their hopes and dreams for their future. They were surprisingly not so different from those of young people today. They wanted the chance to learn, to travel, to work, to find love and adventure. But for these young essayists, their future would be unimaginable and they would be, almost completely, helpless to do anything about it.

As I watched all these Israeli graduates walk off the stage, exultant and cheering, I gave thanks that whatever the future holds for them and the Jewish people, we are no longer stateless, no longer unarmed, no longer at the mercy of foreign governments that do not care about our lives or the lives of Jewish children.

Soon, all of these young people will be handed guns, and tanks, and planes. They will serve their country and their people, bringing with them the love of God, their homeland, and their people what was instilled in them by their families, their communities and their teachers.

With God’s help, they will bring our beloved country far into the future, farther than any of us can guess, or see. I pray it is a future where the enemies of mankind are defeated, and all children reeducated to value their lives over their deaths; a future where the brotherhood of man is reestablished securely, and sectarian hatreds are finally recognized as the true enemy we must all overcome if we want to prosper and see our families secure and rooted in their homelands. It is a future where antisemitism and terrorism will be excoriated, not celebrated. A future where institutions of higher learning will be just that – places where human beings can reach higher planes of self-development and understanding in order to make the world the place we dream it can be for all of us.

Mazal tov, Class of 2024!


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7 comments on “GAZA WAR DIARY: 20 JUNE 2024”

  1. Karen Reply

    Congratulations Naomi and to your granddaughter and family! What a beautiful & poignant diary entry.

  2. Gig Berkowitz Reply

    Naomi, I share your optimism that our youth will work to improve our world. Congratulations to your granddaughter and may her path forward be free of fear from oppression. May she continue to thrive in a peaceful world where her strength and beauty become hallmarks of a well lived life.
    A great Mazel Tov to her and her class.
    Lastly, please continue your mission to keep us informed. We cannot rely on the leftist media to bring us the truth. Your eloquence with words makes reading you diary a pleasure.
    Best, Gig

  3. Larry Tauber Reply

    I am only the father and grandfather of Israelis, so perhaps I do not have the right to comment on the situation. I am continually dismayed by the defeatists elements in our beautiful land, whether it be military spokesmen who proclaim we cannot defeat the enemy or bureaucrats telling us the country will be unlivable in the event of we must challenge our enemies. Your optimism and faith is the antidote to those who lack faith in our people, our army and the God of Israel.

  4. Ellen Calderon Reply

    Congratulations to your granddaughter and all graduates, may they all be safe in the army and live on to make a better world.

  5. Cathy Godwin Reply

    I really needed this essay today, Naomi. Thank you! May the graduates and all of israel find a route to Peace and Prosperity, to using their talents for positivity and may they bend their guns into Plowshares (however that goes, it was part of my graduation speech!)

    Keep telling us the news, your opinion (which usually matches mine) and stya optimistic. It WILL get better. Hashem is on our side.

    Cathy Godwin, Seattle

  6. MERALEE GOLDMAN Reply

    DEAR NAOMI, THIS IS YOU AT YOUR BEST—FULL OF LOVE AND OPTIMISM.
    SENDING LOVE AND HOPE, MERALEE

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