My heart is broken

JULIAN RESNICK writes from Israel

What does a broken heart look like?

I thought that I knew; I thought that I had experienced it in the past. 

But I had not. I had experienced the Hollywood version of it. 

My heart is broken by what has happened over here.

Let me explain “here” for a moment. 

Here is where I came to live over forty-seven years ago, following my big dream.

My “big dream” was to live somewhere where every part of myself would be out there. In which I would recognise myself totally. I came “here”, because I wanted every single part of my being to be exposed. I wanted to be done with hiding even a small part of myself.

“Here” is Israel, my home, my great love, my pain, my joy; the place where Orly and I came together; where my children were born;
where my grandchildren were born.

“Here” is Israel – where I went to the army because I knew, and know, that others would destroy us if they had the chance. Where I have worked for over forty years in education trying to introduce people, both young and older, both Jewish and Gentile, to my love.

My heart is broken, tears fill my eyes all the time, there is constantly a lump in my throat.

Recently, I was in Jerusalem, for the first time since the war began. I had three conversations in Jerusalem. 

The first was with one of my favourite rabbis who has a large congregation in the NYC area. We spoke at length about the complex ethical questions which this war brings up for all of us who inhabit that space where the people we meet and work with are looking for answers to ethical questions as part of their way of navigating life. 

It was an exhilarating hour.

My second conversation was with my wife’s 94-year-old aunt who is an inspiration to us all. Who is clearly an example of what it has meant to be a person of great depth living through the many twists and turns Jerusalem has endured over the past almost 100 years. 

It was a lovely hour.

My third conversation was with someone a little younger than myself, who has lived here fewer years than I have, and is very involved in working for peace, for building an equitable, shared society. He is an impressive combination of a serious thinker and an even more serious doer, taking on seemingly impossible tasks and doing the work on the ground. We talked about the morally impossible situations caused by war for good people, people who care, who are committed and who find their commitments colliding with each other. 

It was a difficult hour.

My heart is broken and I am one of the lucky ones. I have a broken heart, and my family is all physically well. I can still walk with my grandchildren. I can still pick them up when they cry. I can still hug them to give them comfort. 

Many people cannot, either because their little ones are being held hostage, or some of their little ones were taken away from them forever.

In my difficult hour, the third one described above, I was asked about the pain of those Palestinian grandfathers from Gaza who too have broken hearts. I am so angry with those who destroyed so much on October 7th, those Hamas terrorists, when they entered the homes of Israeli civilians and butchered and murdered and raped and took hostage. Not only because of what they did to us, but also because the massacres they carried out, the filthy instructions they had received to murder, burn alive, rape and destroy in every way possible,
is what is causing the heartbreak for grandfathers, here in Israel and in Gaza. 

The very same people who sent in the murderous terrorists with clear and brutal instructions are now turning to those of you who inhabit the space I have inhabited for so many years, not my physical space here in Israel, but the space of navigating this life as you grapple with ethical questions – and please, keep on inhabiting that space –those same brutes are asking you to condemn Israel – me – when you should be turning on them, to them and saying to them: 




My heart is broken.

Julian Resnick was born in Somerset West and grew up in Habonim Dror. He studied at UCT, and made Aliyah in 1976. He’s conducted numerous shlichuyot and educational missions on behalf of Israel, to Jewish communities in England and the USA. He works as a guide in Israel and around the world (wherever there is a Jewish story). He’s married to Orly, and they have three children and seven grandchildren and is a member of Kibbutz Tzora.

• Published in the December 2023/January 2024 issue – Click here to start reading.

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