The Fifth Commandment

“Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

Exodus 20:12

On Friday, I celebrated 7 years since I went before a beit din and immersed in the mikvah, officially joining the Jewish people. In the last 7 years, I’ve been to Israel 7 times, remained a member of my synagogue and balanced the responsibility of having created an interfaith family for my family of origin.

My parents have been particularly supportive of my conversion and Jewish life. They tend to agree that the values aren’t so different than the values they raised us with, just the structure and ritual.

I think when I studied abroad in Argentina, we all started learning that how a country is portrayed in the news is very different than how it is for the people living there. When I was in La Plata, any protest involved students with drums and people rolling out a few tires to set on fire. The police yawned and got out their riot gear and portable fences.

Every protest or rally had burning tires. Every rally had cops in riot gear. It was part of the show. How things were in a 20 years young democracy in Latin America.

Much the same way, we’ve grown accustomed to the Israel I visit being vastly different than the Israel they see on the nightly news. My parents have never asked me to cancel a trip.

I was supposed to leave for Israel on Thursday this week. Supposed to. Yesterday I canceled my plane ticket after a week of debate. Through it all, my parents only once mentioned “have you considered delaying your trip?”

I talked to friends – Jewish and non-Jewish. Israeli and American (and French). IDF reserves and those who never served. At the end of the day, I decided to postpone my trip. In part it comes down to the fifth commandment – that you should honor your mother and father.

i also see friends getting called up to the reserves. People posting about their desire to eat comfort food at home… near their bomb shelters. Friends asking for a quick prayer because their walk to work includes 10 minutes through a park without a place to get shelter. Every time someone reassures me that Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are safe, a siren goes off and they race to a bomb shelter.

So when ever my friend who never counsels anyone to cancel their trips to Israel said, “now is not the time to go,” I heeded his warning and canceled. My parents told me they were incredibly relieved and now I don’t have to worry about their blood pressure while I’m on holiday.

I hope history proves me wrong. I hope a cease-fire is called today and that life goes back to normal, with an extra side of peace, tomorrow. That time will show I shouldn’t have canceled my trip.

Instead I’ll wait until it is less of a guessing game. Until my friends are no longer running to bomb shelters. Until my friends are released from reserve duty in the IDF. And I’ll be back… February at the latest.

I promise.

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