How do you help protect our brothers and sisters in Israel from the pokey mid-west on a mild November afternoon?

“I am in the west, but my heart is in the east.” Judging by the torrent of emails and Facebook posts bouncing between my extended friends, I know that is a reality for many of us. When challenging times threaten our brethren in that precious little strip of land, the umbilical cord that always connects us pulls at our heartstrings—and our guts.

I closed the computer late Friday afternoon with some reluctance, telling myself that Shabbat prayer is much more powerful than catching the latest developments—the physical events are just a reflection of the real action Above. Nonetheless, it was hard to resist the desire to find out “what’s happening” down here, from our puny human perspective.

In synagogue the next morning for a special bar mitzvah, I looked around. So many of the congregants have children and grandchildren studying and living in Israel; it was very real and personal for us all. We quietly asked each other how our kids were faring, who was called up, were the kids in school or in shelters?

I wake early Sunday morning to catch the latest, then Skype with my son and his six-month-old daughter, my first Sabra grandchild. We enjoy her newest tricks, her skooching—almost crawling. I try to pinch her through the screen. Then, ever so gently, I ask Chaim the question that hangs in the air. “So, how’s it going?”

He sighs. Tries to look calm, but somewhat nervously rubs his hand through his hair. “It’s weird. Surreal. Going to work, pretending to be normal. We’re out of the zone of fire, so far, but not that far away.”

Chaim’s scheduled to report for reserve training up north next Sunday. But now, who knows? “Every time the phone rings, I jump a little,” he acknowledges.

The resolve of the young man who joined the IDF as a foreign volunteer almost ten years ago hasn’t changed an iota. But youthful bravado has inevitably given way to the mature caution of a husband and father. He knows more deeply what he may be called to protect—his wonderful wife and that sweet little girl who is the apple of her daddy’s eye. But he knows more deeply the gravity of what going off to fight means.

Later in the morning I speak with a younger son who’s studying in yeshiva in Jerusalem. My happy-go-lucky, sweet son has experienced a sobering few days.

The siren went off in Jerusalem on Friday night. “Yeah, usually you hear about it. But then it’s suddenly real. Wow.” I detect a ping of fear and awe in his voice. He has friends on their way to the Gazan border.

“You have your own war to fight,” I tell him. “Study Torah, do more mitzvahs—and go out and get others to do them too.” These are our best defense, even more powerful than the Iron Dome. Everything is ultimately in G‑d’s hands, I tell him, and we each have our own role to play.

We laugh about the “Facebook War” that I and my stateside friends are passionately fighting. If you click “Like” really hard on a good post, it feels like you’re taking out a Hamas rocket launcher. And if you share the post on your page, you imagine millions of readers being swayed by the real story, not that stuff put out by biased media outlets. In reality, though, most of my “friends” are of a similar mindset, so we’re just circulating these moving posts to each other.

So I did an Ohio Sunday. A normal, abnormal day of laundry, bills, shopping, with periodic zaps online for updates. But in the midst of the mundane, I made sure to add something higher.

I’ve been increasing my prayer and study quotient since the war started, both in quantity and quality. That afternoon I sat down to read the day’s Torah portion. And, as if He had read my thoughts, G‑d’s reassuring hand practically rested on my shoulder. “I’m here, little girl. You gotta do your part. But don’t worry, there is a plan,” He seemed to whisper through the startling and relevant words.

I opened to the portion of Vayeitzei and read, “You shall gain strength westward and eastward and northward and southward.”1Which direction does the Torah mention first? West. Hmm…Gaza is west of Israel.

The next part of the verse laid out more—“…through you shall be blessed all the families of the earth.”

In spite of what some may twist or ignore, we know it in our gut, and we never knew it more strongly: There is a path; there is a plan. Through our faith, our strength and our humanity, good and holiness will prevail, and evil will be vanquished. The world will yet recognize the enormous blessings the Jewish people bring.

Thanks for the whisper, the kiss, the sign. May we be worthy of it, and of Your protection. Please shelter Your precious people, wherever they may be, and Your precious land, our one true home.