Sunday, October 31, 2010

Let My People Go...On the Walk with Israel

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Finally reposting from my archives at ChicagoMomsBlog before the site goes down. This originally appeared in May 2008.

We did it. We really did it. My family and I survived our first Walk with Israel. It wasn't the hot weather or length of the walk that put me off all these years, rather it was the terrorist threat. A terrorist threat that, perhaps, only existed in my mind.

Despite all the years I’ve been afraid of the walk, none of our friends seemed concerned. In fact, I’d create excuses that it didn’t fit in with our weekend plans for some reason or another. For example, I’d say it conflicted with the boys’ soccer schedules, only to see a bunch of cheerful, lightly tanned families show up at the soccer field later in the day wearing their Walk with Israel t-shirts. Clearly, they survived unscathed.

I started to feel silly, keeping my family away from a large community event. It just seemed to me that a mile-long line of Jews walking alongside Lake Michigan presented an ideal target for enemies of the State of Israel. And rumor has it there are a few.

My fears were fed when we approached McCormick Place, only to find some anti-Israel protesters on the way to the parking garage. Nothing violent, though. How wonderful that we live in a country in which we can freely express political and religious views, yes?

But then we drove into the parking garage. The woman who issued our pass paused for a moment. "You here for the Israel walk?"

Ah, my husband's Semitic good looks show through again.

”Yes, we are here for the Israel walk.”

"Did they check your car?" She asked. "They were supposed to check your car."

"For what?" I naively inquire.

"'For bombs."

My eyes pop out of my head. My blood pressure skyrockets, set off by both the tone and content of our exchange. Hello, did you notice my kids in the backseat?

"What did she say?" Asks my ten-year-old.

"She wanted to make sure we didn't have guns or anything. Did you know when I was in Georgia at the aquarium, they had a sign saying no guns allowed. Can you imagine bringing a gun to the aquarium? We even had to walk through metal detectors…at an aquarium."

DH joins in on my nervous banter and we discuss gun laws in the American south.

Even though one typically does not have to go through metal detectors in Chicago, we did have to get "wanded" and have our bags searched before being presented with our official Walk with Israel wristbands and t-shirts.

Speeches from several local politicians kicked things off and then we started walking. Considering the 10,000 or so who took part, we saw few familiar faces in the crowd. That the community is larger than I expected, does not keep me from thinking that if this group of people was in the wrong part of Europe nearly 70 years ago, we’d have been just a drop in the bucket of the 6,000,000 Jews killed during the Holocaust. I keep these thoughts to myself, though.

As we walked, I came up with a more uplifting and appropriate comparison, one I shared with my boys. A line of walkers stretched out before and behind us on dry land with the lake beside us, it seemed to parallel the exodus of the Egyptian slaves from Pharaoh’s tyranny. I pointed this out to one of my boys. "What do you think?"

"Yeah, maybe."

So much for my attempts to bring the Bible to life.

The walk was fun; it was safe. We survived. But when I think about next year's walk, I still get jittery.

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