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Immersing In A Pool of Tears For My Sisters In Israel

I was greatly affected during my recent visit to the mikvah as I thought of the horrors endured by women and hostages since October 7th.

I packed my bag and drove to the mikvah. Then I was led to my private preparation room to bathe and prepare. I felt as though a mountain was on my shoulders and I couldn’t shake the pain and images that were running through my mind. I went through the usual steps: Cutting my nails, carefully bathing, and combing my hair.

My preparations were completed and it was my turn to enter the mikvah. The attendant knocked on my door and held my robe as I entered the warm depths of the mikvah waters. Normally, the moment I am underwater I feel a sense of connection and am surrounded by warmth, like a hug from the Divine. I am usually able to focus on my prayers for good health, joy and peace for all my loved ones. Feelings of renewal, rebirth, and a fresh start wash over me. I whisper the traditional prayers and arise anew, ready to dive back into life.

This time it was different.

When I dunked, all I could think about were “all the women.” A sob broke through the abyss of the waters that surrounded me. In my most vulnerable and exposed state, I felt the dagger to my heart. What did the women endure? Something so unimaginable to our human minds that it is only in our dreams that we process how horrific it all was and still is.

I am fortunate in this moment, yet I feel so much guilt and anguish around this privilege. Why them? Why am I safe? Am I truly safe? The words swim around me and it’s too much to take in. The tears of all my sisters are causing the pool to overflow. It used to be rainfall mixed with water from the pipes below. Now it’s the tears. We shed them from deep within our souls, all overflowing into a never ending abyss.

Now I utter the prayers and the mikveh attendant quietly answers “amen.” I dunk down again and nightmare images pass through my mind. Those women are me. We are all sisters, even if we haven’t met. I think to myself, all they were doing was living their normal lives until evil came and eliminated it all.

When I walk back to my room it’s all I can do to try and breathe again, to pull myself together in order to dress and go back home. A boulder sits inside me, one that may very well never leave me. How can it? For this was an assault on us all. Sobs escape as I drive back home. Immediately my husband can see something is wrong. I tell him what’s wrong and we cry together. Feelings of anguish coupled together with gratitude for our reunion and safety is a bizarre feeling.

How do I move on?

I will not let the horrors consume me. The next time I returned to the mikvah was less intense because I am focus on living, on being the light that needs to shine during these dark times. My family needs me, my people need me. By living, laughing, engaging in our religious practices, and going about our lives, we are honoring the victims.

In some small way, I hope to do my part to honor their lives. Not just to focus on the end but on the beginning, on the middle and on everything in between. Like me, they were raising their families, spending time with their friends and going through day-to-day rituals.

When I light candles on Friday night, my soul connects with the other women. These millennia-old traditions are for our sisterhood; our unique ways of expressing our spirituality and an unbreakable shared bond. As we continue to live, we prove our enemies wrong. For only G-d is in charge, and as long as we keep faith and keep preserving, we will not be eliminated.

We will never be broken. Bricks may be taken, smashed up and appear to now be but only rubble on the road. But we will rebuild. We always do and we always will. I will keep going back to those sacred waters, filled with prayers and hope. I will continue to light candles and laugh with my children, their faces shining and bright, no matter what lays outside.

To each Jewish woman, you are me and I am you. Even if we are strangers, I love you. This love, this dedication and soul connection is what keeps us going. In us, we will keep going. There is no other choice, and knowing we have each other gives us the strength we all need right now.

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