The tragedy of the Hamas pogrom on Simchas Torah brought with it unfathomable pain and suffering. But it has also been a catalyst for so much good. Despite the shocking setback, people here are drawing upon their resilience and picking themselves up. They are choosing to take note of the constant miracles taking place around us. They are choosing to appreciate and see the positive in each other. They are opening themselves up to new experiences, new people, and new ideas. They are opening their hearts. They are choosing life.

Who would have ever thought that Kever Rachel would be closed to Jews by the Israel Defense Forces? But this was the case last week, on 11 Cheshvan, the yahrzeit of Rachel Imeinu. Thousands usually flock to her kever on this day, but our security personnel realized that, under the circumstances, there would be no way to provide adequate security for the visitors. At the same time, everyone is painfully aware of the extreme distress of the families of the captives. An exception was made for them, and they were permitted to come to Kever Rachel to daven for the welfare and speedy release of their loved ones.

Two Shabbasos ago, a group of soldiers was stationed at a kibbutz in the Gaza envelope. A military rabbi brought a sefer Torah to the Kibbutz so that the chayalim would be able to read from the Torah on Shabbos. During Shabbos, the military security coordinator of the kibbutz saw the sefer Torah and got very angry. In the 70 years of the existence of the kibbutz, nobody had ever brought a sefer Torah onto the premises. He was upset that someone had taken the liberty to break that tradition. Later in the week, that same military service coordinator asked a chayal to help him put on t’filin.

A soldier in the reserves hitched a ride from Beer Sheva, in the South, to Rosh Ha’ayin in the center of the country. When the driver realized that the soldier was traveling to be with his wife who was about to give birth, he drove him all the way to Rambam Hospital in Haifa in the North. The drive took several hours.

A chareidi family owns a jewelry shop in Yerushalayim. They decided to produce special silver necklaces and give them to bereaved mothers. On one side of the pendant was a portrait. The other side was engraved with the words, “Giborah shel Ima” – “A Hero of a Mom.”

Last night, a chayelet, a female soldier, who had been held in captivity by Hamas, was rescued and returned to her family. It was nothing less than a miracle. When she returned to her home and family in Kiryat Gat, she was welcomed with an enormous celebration. All types of Jews danced and celebrated together.

On Simchas Torah, soldiers who fought in Kibbutz Be’eri ran over an orange tree with their tank. This week, they returned to that exact site and planted a new orange tree in its place. Life will grow again.

Many are expressing appreciation for the more hidden heroes. My daughter-in-law received a bouquet along with a beautiful note from my son’s commander, thanking her and her family for their support, love, help, and firm stance on the homefront. A group of people sent fruit platters to ZAKA volunteers and the Military Rabbinate to show appreciation for their hard work in bringing the dead to kever Yisrael.

The acts of chesed continue to surprise. When families that were evacuated from Kibbutz Netiv HaAsarah and Sderot arrived at Pardes Chanah, they found that they would be housed in brand-new accommodations. The contractors gave the evacuees full use of 30 apartments that were not yet sold. The contractors bought electrical appliances and furniture at their own expense. The evacuees can stay there as long as necessary until they can return to their homes.

While we carry around with us the weight of the tragedy and our constant concern for the soldiers and captives, we can also use this time to grow and become better people. We can choose life.

Please continue to daven for the recovery of the sick, the release of the hostages, and the safe return of all the soldiers.

Suzie Steinberg, (nee Schapiro), CSW, is a native of Kew Gardens Hills and resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh who publishes articles regularly in various newspapers and magazines about life in general, and about life in Israel in particular. Her recently published children’s book titled Hashem is Always With Me can be purchased in local Judaica stores as well as online. Suzie can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and would love to hear from you.