A tiny little head, cradled in his father's arms.

The proud clan, pushing over one another in anxious warmth to take pictures of the new young father with his son and relish the nachas. Parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and extended family and friends welcoming this lad into his heritage of glory, agony and destiny: the covenant of Abraham our Father.

Their smiles, wrinkled faces and mélange of accents tell the story of the travel weary, eternally hopeful Jewish people. Great grandma mentions her first years in Communist Russia and young childhood in a DP camp. Every Jewish heart beats a little faster Zeide is from Israel, and chuckles at the American ways. A group of Sephardim from France, Egypt and Morocco, relaxing on the patio, break out in the melodic sounds of their birthplaces.

Underlying the joy is worry. Every Jewish heart beats a little faster. The beautiful homes and bountiful spread are an illusion, a shell. We all know Cincinnati is a way station, where we've ended up for various reasons. The troubles push away the surface reality of our lives here. It is our land and our family, that precious little nothing of a stretch of land, over there, across the vast ocean.

Somehow it feels better to have a part of me right there, in the eye of the storm My boy-man, my big 22-year-old son, left our home early this morning. He's making aliyah, going up, moving home to Israel to pursue his dreams and build his life. "He's going now?" friends ask. "Arent you worried?" For some reason I'm not, not more than I would be anyways. Somehow it feels better to have a part of me right there, in the eye of the storm.

My life is torn between the day-to-day, reciting tehillim (psalms), and frequent Internet checks on the matzav, the "situation."

Driving the kids to camp, I check the news, not that I trust their biased distortions, but to keep pulse. "The missiles used in yesterday's attack on Haifa come from Iran. Iran is estimated to support Hizbullah with $10 to 20 million dollars a month." Iran, the frothing hyena the whole world is tiptoeing around and unsure what to do about. Why is Israel the address, always in the center of it all? It's not fair! Hasn’t anyone looked on a map and seen how ridiculously tiny Israel is? Why can’t someone else take the fire for once?

Why is Israel the address, always in the center of it all? My eyes fill with tears, and all I can see is that sweet baby's head. We just want to live in peace and raise our families, celebrate our holidays. What did we ever do to anyone? Why can't they just allow us our little strip of land and leave us alone?

Such a people. The Palestinians dance with a dead Israeli soldier's leg, as we agonize over how to tiptoe around their innocent civilians to remove the lethal missiles pointed at us.

But that's it. Hitler knew it. He blamed the Jews for burdening the world with conscience. We can't sit quietly in the corner and enjoy the treasures we received at Sinai. Being a light onto the nations, being inextricably intertwined with the destiny of the world, means yes, we are in the limelight and the center and have to stand and lead the way. And shine.

Little boy, this is your destiny. Shine.

July 17, 2006