As an American child, when I first saw “Fiddler on the Roof” I thought it was a frivolous musical about things that happened to Jews once upon a time. As a grown up Israeli I know better.

Reading the news about the wedding of Sarah Techiya Litman and Ariel Beigel this Thursday, two weeks after Sarah’s father and brother were murdered by terrorists I kept hearing in my head the song from “Fiddler on the Roof”: “Drink lechaim, to life!”

Going back to the song and listening to the words was chilling. For how many centuries will this be the reality of the Jewish people?

“May all your futures be pleasant ones, not like our present ones! Drink lechaim, to life! It takes a wedding to say, let’s live another day. Drink lechaim, to life!”

The precariousness of being a Jew has not changed. Neither has the hope for a better future. There is a reason the Jewish drinking salute is “Lechaim! To life!” There is no bigger triumph.

As it says in the Passover Hagadah: “In every generation enemies rise up against us, to exterminate us and each time God saves us.” This is our reality. The wedding of Sarah and Ariel was the essence of this.

Right before her wedding Sarah got the news that her father and brother had been murdered. How could she get married without them? How could she stand under the wedding chuppah (Jewish traditional canopy) without her father by her side? How could she celebrate knowing her brother was dead? In Jewish tradition the mourning rituals for the death of a parent are particularly severe out of the deep respect held for parents. Religious people abstain from all celebrations for an entire year, don’t go to parties, don’t attend events, don’t buy new clothes etc.

But it is also forbidden to cancel a wedding.

The Jewish wedding is not only a milestone in the life of the couple, a first step in building a new family – it is a promise to continue the Jewish people. It is a promise to live, to triumph over our would-be exterminators.

The wedding was postponed for 9 days, enough time to hold the shivah, the seven days ritual mourning and reschedule the event. The couple sent out an announcement inviting the entire Nation of Israel to participate in their wedding, preceded by the phrase – “Do not rejoice over me, my enemy, for I have fallen but I have gotten up” (Michah 7:8).

“It takes a wedding to make us say, let’s live another day”. What a horribly appropriate sentence.

Sarah Litman prepares for her wedding Thursday Nov 26th 2015

Sarah Litman praying before the wedding ceremony

The death of a loved one rips a hole in your soul. Murder makes it ten thousand times worse and murder simply because they are who they are, Jewish, intensifies the pain even more. It takes extreme strength of spirit to pull yourself together after such an event but what this couple did was even more than that – they pulled together a Nation.

Ours is a harsh reality. There is no fuzzy pink buffer to the knowledge that each and every one of us is a target simply because we are Jewish. Small children understand that there are people who want them dead because they were born Jewish and Israeli. In this reality we grow, and to the annoyance of our haters – we prosper.

Sarah and Ariel’s wedding was held in the biggest place available in Jerusalem and still there was not enough room for all their well-wishers. Thousands came. Of course!! The people of Israel responded to the invitation, to add joy to the celebration of this young couple. To rejoice even after our enemies did everything possible to cause despair. To rejoice, especially after so much was done to cause despair.

I’m hugging you in my name, in the name of the prime minister and in the name of all of Israel,” she said while embracing the bride. “I hope you will build a faithful home in Israel.

Sara Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Netanyahu hugs the bride, telling her: “I’m hugging you in my name, in the name of the Prime Minister and in the name of all of Israel.”

This is what triumph looks like.

Lechaim! To life!

a wedding party like no other

A wedding party like no other – thousands dancing, waving flags and singing “Am Yisrael Chai! The people of Israel LIVE”


From the Empowerment Series by Chloé Simone Valdary

Considering the American holiday of Thanksgiving and its meaning I decided to post this, the first piece I ever had published.

It appeared in the Jerusalem Post on April 26th, 2002 and is still very relevant today.

The reality we are living with has changed (slightly) but the spirit of our everyday heroes is the same. I have lived here for more than half of my life and although I am very familiar with it, the power of the people of Israel never ceases to amaze me.


Give Thanks To The Everyday Heroes


Great people walk amongst us everyday, so common, so ordinary, that they’re usually taken for granted and rarely thanked. Who notices when we pass a nurse, a storekeeper or a guard in the entrance to a supermarket?

I would like to thank these everyday heroes:  The men and women of the army and police force that protect us. The citizens who have tackled armed terrorists with their bare hands without a thought for their own safety.  All the people who have stepped closer to suicide bombers to shield others from the explosions. The doctors, nurses and paramedics who see the dead and the wounded again and again while working unceasingly to save lives. The amazing Hesed Shel Emet, Zaka volunteers who come after every attack to clean up the pieces.

Also heroes are the shopkeepers that go to work everyday despite enduring attack after attack in front of their shops. The children whose clear thinking saved their younger brothers and sisters.  Everyone who goes to a club, a cafe or a party.  The people who refuse to be cowed by terrorism and insist on living their lives to the fullest.  All of you are the source of my strength and hope.

In Israel we live under the shadow of death, of current and remembered horrors.  Suicide bombing must be one of the most evil things invented by man. We must remember that the other side of greatest evil is greatest good. We see this awe inspiring good in our every day heroes. These courageous, stubborn, compassionate, good people are OUR people.  I am so proud and so grateful that these are MY people.  Thank you all of you.

Body count

As terror attack follows terror attack, the body count rises.

How many bodies are enough? 1? 20? 200? 6 million?

When will enough be enough?


Ziv Mizrahi was murdered today by Palestinian terrorists. Upon hearing the news his commander was overcome with emotion.

Ziv Mizrahi was murdered today by Palestinian terrorists. Upon hearing the news his commander was overcome with emotion.

The body count rises.

But who counts the bodies of those left behind?

Parents murdered, orphans left behind… Who considers the children who have to grow up without parents?

The boys with no father to teach them how to be a man. The girls with no mother to guide them in to their womanhood.

Children with no parents to comfort them after a nightmare.

Children who saw their parents murdered in front of them… their nightmare is real.


Children murdered. Parents who have to bury their son or daughter.

The child they loved, held in their arms, watching every step they took as they grew.

Does the baby eat enough? Is he growing fast enough? Don’t let her fall, she’s learning to walk, she might get hurt.

Worrying over skinned knees, grades in school. Is he hanging out with the right kind of friends?

Worry cut short by the blade, bullet or bomb of a terrorist.

Their baby will never be cold, tired or hungry again. Never laugh. Never smile. Never grow up.


Who counts the tears of parents?

The sleepless nights?

The days full of effort to be normal, trying not to burden others with their sorrow. Trying to not fill guilty for being happy.

The thoughts flit through the mind a thousand times a thousand: “Oh how lovely! My daughter would have loved that!” or “That would have made my son laugh so hard his drink would spurt out of his nose like it did that time when…”

It only takes a split second for the thought to rise up, for realization to beat it down.

There will be no more shared moments with the beloved one, torn away.

Who notices the stabbing heartache in the eyes of the parent as it suddenly comes and then is shoved back down in the effort to be normal?


Who counts the brothers deprived of their sisters? The sisters deprived of their brothers?

Who counts the children who held their siblings in their arms as they died?

Who counts the children who protected their siblings while terrorists murdered their parents?

Who counts the children who became parents to their younger brothers and sisters? Or those who took in and raised the children of their murdered siblings?

The grandparents who raised their grandchildren because the parents, their children had been murdered?

Who counts the friends who lost their best friends?

Who can fill the hole left behind?

Who counts the pain of losing a friend, a neighbor, a classmate?

A stranger who was there, murdered instead of you?

Who counts the bodies of the grieving? The bodies of the traumatized?

Who counts their percentage in the population? What it means to a tiny nation to lose even one person?


If no one counts the bodies

No bodies count.

Not Jewish bodies. Certainly not Israeli bodies.

Those are excusable murders.

And the triumph of spirit of those who continued living despite the grief and the horror is taken for granted.

And the loss to the world does not matter.

Who counts the books that would have been written?

The music that would have been composed?

The scientific discoveries, the medical innovations, the lives that would have been bettered or even saved had that one person lived to fulfill their potential?


No body counts …


The problem is that if the world doesn’t learn from the experiences of the Jewish Nation,

They will have to learn for themselves.

Maybe when it is the bodies of their friends, their loved ones,

When the horror knocks on their door,

Maybe then they will begin to count.

A video has gone viral of a father explaining to his son what will happen following the attacks on Paris.

The child explains that his family will have to leave their home, that the terrorists are very, very bad. “They have guns and they can shoot us papa.”

The father responds: “They may have guns but we have flowers”.

“But flowers don’t do anything. They are for… they are for…” says the child, struggling to express his idea.

Of course they do, says the father. Everyone is putting flowers (referring to the flowers and candles placed outside the Bataclan theatre in tribute to the victims of terror attacks on France). It’s to fight against the guns.”

“It’s to protect?” says the child.

“Exactly” answers his father.

This exchange is being lauded as a touching, heartwarming talk between a father and his son. The father, Angel Le, is obviously very kind. His gentle responses to his son’s questions are very sweet. He has received many supportive comments on Facebook about this comforting exchange.

Comforting?! I don’t find this comforting or heartwarming at all. I find it frightening.Wrong message

I believe that parents have a duty, a responsibility to their children – it is their job to prepare their children to be able to live independently in the world. If this is the case there is a very big problem with this father’s lesson to his son.

As C.S. Lewis said: “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort of truth; only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.”

Young as he is, this sensible boy instinctively understood the truths of the situation.

His feeling that their home will never be the same again is very correct. No, they do not need to leave their home but it will never again be like it was before.

He is right in saying that the men are “Very, very mean, they have guns and could shoot us.” The men that shot and murdered the people in France would have shot this father and son just as easily as they shot other people. The many others in France, Europe and around the world who have the same beliefs as the “mean men” would do the same as well. In a heartbeat. They aren’t after Jews or soldiers or politicians. They are after anyone who gets in the way of their ultimate goal – including this sweet father and his super-cute son.

I found it fascinating that when Angel pointed out the flowers to his son the child struggled to express his thoughts. The boy instinctively knew that flowers are good but they do not provide protection from guns.

Flowers uplift the spirt. Their beauty is a symbol of good and as such they become useful in times of trouble. They whisper to us not to despair. When all seems dark, their small perfection reminds us that there is splendor in life.

But they do not protect from guns. Or from people who want to kill you.

The truth is not pretty but it will set you free. It is only when we recognize and accept the truth, when we speak the truth can we actually deal with the truth. Turning a blind eye is dangerous. Refusing to say the words is reinforces the problem. Making up nice but inaccurate stories to explain the problem away creates fertilizer, allowing the problem to grow to monstrous proportions.

“The flowers and the candles will protect us?”

“No son” the father should have said.

“The flowers and candles are our way to show respect to the people who were killed. They remind us that although there are very, very bad people in the world, we are not like them. We care about lives, even if they are people who are not related to us and were not our friends.”

“What happened was very scary for everyone but being brave doesn’t mean not being scared. It means seeing what is scary and continuing anyway. I am your father and I will always do absolutely everything I can to protect you. The government is doing everything they know how to protect all of us. We will continue living our lives exactly as we always did. We will be happy and have fun times together. Each time you do something good that fights the badness those men did. Each time you are happy that fights the sadness they caused. Do you see the police over there? It is their job to protect us from bad men with guns. There are soldiers who do help them as well. It is our job to remain good even when others are bad, and to be happy together. Can you do that?”

It would have made me proud to hear a father say that to his son.

Well-meaning people worldwide are perpetuating the problem because they are ignoring the truth, because they think that being nice will make the terror stop. Because they hide the truth from their children, and from themselves.

Parents teach their children to be careful crossing the street because if a car hits them they could die. If you don’t acknowledge the danger it is impossible to take appropriate preventive measures.

When it comes to terrorism and the growing Islamic State flowers are great but guns are important too.

Eye from Zion brings sight to people in far off Nepal for the pure joy of being able to do so.

Not for money, or political gain, or to repay a debt.

Simply because we can.

Because that is who we are.


Following the horrific terror attacks in Paris there has been an outpouring of solidarity.

The Israeli Knesset (parliament) flies Israeli flags at half mast and lights up in solidarity with France.

The Israeli Knesset (parliament) flies Israeli flags at half mast and lights up in solidarity with France.

World landmarks have been lit up with the French tricolor, including the Israeli Knesset and the Tel Aviv city hall. Facebook is full of tricolor tinted profile photos, memes about praying for Paris and the hashtag #WeAreParis.

How cute.

While the enemies of liberté are busy terrorizing people into submission we are busy playing with colors.

According to the Islamic State: “Soldiers of the Caliphate set out targeting the capital of prostitution and vice, the lead carrier of the cross in Europe — Paris.” The entertainments of Paris are abhorrent and immoral and part of their duty to God is to shut them down. And in a single night 8 individuals succeed in doing exactly that. No more Eiffel Tower. No more Louvre. No more Disney Land. People afraid to go sit in the cafes or stroll down the Champs Elysées.

What a stunning victory for the Caliphate!

In stark contrast to the single night of horror in Paris, Israel is constantly bombarded by terrorism and attacks on the personal liberty of her citizens: freedom of movement, freedom of religion, freedom to live… Interestingly our nation is never brought to a standstill. While under attack Israelis continue to search for cures for cancer, find ways to irrigate the world and maintain our status as a cultural hub for the world on par with New York, London, Rome or Berlin.

Tel Aviv city hall lit up like the French flag

Tel Aviv city hall lit up like the French flag

Égalité is certainly a noble sentiment. All people are born equal. All lives should be equally valued. Should, but are not. The current outpouring of solidarity with France sends a message not only to the victims of the attacks on Paris but also to the victims of all other acts of terrorism around the world. It seems that French lives matter more.

Nigerian lives don’t matter. It couldn’t possibly be because the victims of Boko Haram’s terror are black, could it?

Yazidi lives don’t matter. Who are those people anyway?

The extermination of Christians in the Middle East doesn’t matter. American Christians are too busy arguing about what’s printed on Starbucks coffee mugs.

Jewish lives certainly don’t matter. Especially not the lives of Israeli Jews. Our very existence is somehow wrong. Judea was named after the Jews that originally lived there but today Jews living in Judea are, according to Europe, according to France, illegal and thus the murder of Israeli parents in front of their children is somehow acceptable.

The Western world likes to differentiate types of Islamic terror and excuse it. “Over there” terror originates from poor living conditions / political motivation / who cares what happens in Africa etc. It is only when terror hits close to home that it becomes something inexcusable that must be fought. There is no égalité.

Except in the eyes of the Islamic State. All kufar, all infidels are equal. All must submit or die. It is true that not all terrorist groups agree with the Islamic State. Some even fight each other (for example Hamas and IS). There is the historical doctrinal argument between the Sunni and Shia and the strategic arguments between different terror organizations on which enemy to fight first and correct battle tactics. The end-game however is the same. The desire to live under sharia law is the same. And they all shout “Allahu Akbar” before killing their enemies.

Égalité. There can be no equality without fraternité. That is why brotherhood is such an important ideal. Without the understanding that all lives matter, no life can truly matter. It’s very nice for all of us to announce that #WeAreFrench or #JeSuisCharlie. It’s sweet. But when, for example, there is no equal fervor for #JeSuisJuif the gesture becomes meaningless. There is no solidarity when the sentiment is one sided.

The people of Israel truly ache when someone else suffers. We know suffering. We feel for the bereaved Parisians. We pray for the swift and complete healing of the wounded. We wish that no one experience the terror and misery that we know so well.

We also wish that someone cared about our suffering.

We do not need anyone to protect our liberté. It would however be refreshing not to be condemned for protecting our liberty. We wish to be treated equally – Israeli lives are just as valuable as French lives. True fraternité would solve everything. We must stop announcing #WeAreFrench or whatever the hashtag of the day is. We are all kufar.

If the nations of the world, those who believe in freedom, united against our common enemy, stopped finding excuses for terrorism and acted on the belief that all lives matter, people worldwide would be much safer.

Colors as a sign of solidarity are very nice. Cute but nothing more. Playing with color filters on Facebook or lighting up buildings has absolutely no impact on the people planning to fundamentally transform our culture and/or exterminate our very existence.

Without fraternité there is no égalité and we will all lose our liberté.

Without unity, those that are unified against us will win. It’s as simple as that.

Did you know that there are Muslims in the IDF? They are Israeli Arabs that play an important role in protecting Israel.

People in Israel are not divided by race, religion or gender but by morals and values. Take a look at this interesting clip explaining how these Arab Israelis protect Israel from Arab terrorists working to destroy her.


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