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We have a lot to answer for, in not answering calls that were important to us

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Hannah Senesh, in a Purim costume dressed as a Hungarian soldier. She heard and answered the call, giving her life fighting the Nazis. (Photo: ww2db.com)

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All of us want to live fulfilling lives. That’s normal. And reasonable. That is reasonable when things around us are normal, when the world is normal. How about when that is not the case? How about then?

When the world is consumed in war, and world-wide disruption, it is normal that life is not normal. We are coerced into doing things that we would not otherwise do. Or we choose to do things that we would not otherwise do. It becomes normal to do the abnormal.

Hannah Senesh, a Hungarian immigrant to Mandate Palestine as a teenager, volunteered to be one of thirty-seven Jewish volunteers recruited by the British. Their job was to parachute into Eastern Europe in 1943, to help the partisans fighting the Nazis.

Even when her companions withdrew because they considered it too dangerous, she went on. She was caught, tortured and executed just before her 23rd birthday. In her own poetic words, “I heard the call and I went, I went because I heard the call”.

How do we define normal? When Jack Kennedy faced down the Russians in October, 1962, with the threat of military action, and forced them to withdraw their missiles from Cuba, was that normal?

We were the ones facing the possibility of a nuclear conflagration. Many would have lost their lives to back up that threat. We would have been the tinder kindling the flame of freedom for all of us in North America. It would not have been normal.

On September 11, 2001, 19 hijackers crashed four commercial airliners, bringing down the World Trade Center Towers in New York and damaging the Pentagon in Washington. Passengers on the fourth plane saved the Capitol by forcing it down in Pennsylvania. Hundreds raced into the burning building hoping to save lives, and perished. Many who answered the call died from the aftereffects. The Jihadists involved who surrendered their lives, believed they were kindling a flame of Islamic revolt, ended up initiating a US involvement in the Middle East, and death plus chaos for many of its inhabitants.

Ever since some Jews made the decision to rekindle Jewish sovereignty in their homeland, around the river Jordan, by direct action, they have faced Islamic intolerance of the recapture of lands ever under Islamic control. Religious hostility from Islam against Judaism is present in Islamic history, and in its writings and sermons, chapter and verse.

The effort to rekindle that statehood has been unceasing for almost two hundred years. Jihadist sentiment that was brought home to American living rooms in 9/11, has been the Jewish reality during their struggle in that territory, and in every place where Jews have lived in theocratic Moslem countries. We are seeing it now in every place where Islamic extremists are present. Even in the U.S. Congress.

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For myself, in 1948, when the Israel War of Independence broke out, I was 15 years old. I heard the call, but I stayed in school.

In 1952, at the age of eighteen I travelled to Israel for a year of study in Zionist leadership and Kibbutz work volunteering. In 1953, hitchhiking in the Negev, I was picked up by police, informed that an IDF captain had been found in a well with his throat cut, just over the hill from where I stood. I had not realized I was a combatant in a war zone.

In 1967, when Israel was attacked by its neighbors, I heard the call. Married, with three young children, I stayed at work. While I struggled with my conscience, after seven days it was over. In 1973, Israel was surprised by an attack from its neighbors. I heard the call, but at 39 years, working as an executive at a grocery company, I felt I would be a detriment rather than an asset.

In our seventies, my Bride, (who, when younger, spent four years in Israel with her children,) and I, attempted to emigrate to Israel. After two years of wrestling with bureaucratic obstacles to achieving citizenship, we gave up the struggle. We are now very happy where we are.

Now at the age of eighty-seven, I have a daughter and two living grandchildren residing in Jerusalem. My sister has a daughter and three grandchildren living near Tel Aviv. All the children have done military service.

I remain with the feeling that my efforts were wanting.

Like so many of our contemporaries, we have a lot to answer for in not answering calls that were important to us.

*“Blessed Is The Match That Is Consumed In Kindling Flame” is a line from a poem by Hannah Senesh, written before her assignment in Europe.

Max Roytenberg is an author, poet and blogger, with many published articles in Jewish periodicals in Dublin, New York, Winnipeg and Vancouver. After a career as an Economist and Executive in the Food Industry, in Canada and abroad, he writes, and lives with his Bride, in Vancouver. He has children and grandchildren in the US, Canada, China and Israel. His last book, “Hero In My Own Eyes”, is available through major booksellers and on Amazon.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

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