It has been just over two weeks since my wife, two daughters and I arrived. Between all our Facebook posts, our site and the general media, I’m sure you know how serious the situation has been here in Israel. What I would like to do is tell you how this war has affected my family personally, as well as all the people of this very holy land.

With great excitement, we had been planning what we were hoping to do over the next year. The plans included trips to the Kotel (Western Wall), famous Jewish sites, amazing restaurants and a lot of hikes. One plan in particular involved spending Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) in Hebron with our holy ancestors buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs.

This particular plan was established within our first day of arriving. As the war continued in the distance, we travelled around, got our accounts set up and established our place in the land. We knew that there were terror tunnels being discovered and we spoke with dear friends who are living a very difficult life close to the Gaza border, where the rockets continue to rain down.

When news broke out about the tunnels, it was met with fear and shock. Then we found out what Hamas had been planning for this coming Rosh Hashanah and that there was a tunnel leading right into Hebron.

Today, while sitting on a bus with a friend studying Torah, everything became clear. (This same friend was going to be with me in Hebron, along with his wife and two children.)

I thought about the three boys who were abducted and murdered, may their blood be avenged speedily in our days. I thought about the fact that if not for this current war, we would not know about the tunnels. And then I thought about what Hamas had been planning to do with those tunnels.

Our plan was to be in Hebron on Rosh Hashanah. Hamas was planning on using the tunnel leading into Hebron to slaughter as many Jews as they could.

It’s hard not to think about what could have been. I’m extremely fortunate and humbled by the fact that I can see what could have been. Thank God!

Until now, as far as I was concerned, the conflict was something being fought by the IDF and which affects many cities in Israel dealing with sirens multiple times a day. The conflict had not reached me directly. Or so I thought.

And so I give thanks to the Almighty. I give thanks to the three precious souls whose sacrifice potentially saved thousands and thousands of lives. And I give thanks to the IDF soldiers who are out there right now, fighting to keep my family and me safe.

We are all affected by this conflict, whether we are here in Israel, New York, Toronto or anywhere else in the world. With that in mind, we must stand united as one nation. We must put aside our differences and remember that regardless of everything else, we are family and we must love each other. Everything is connected. If a rocket falls in Ashdod, it affects every Jew in the world. In fact, it affects every freedom-loving person in the world.

May this realization bring us all strength, confidence and courage. Let us stand together and show the world that we are all United with Israel.

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Article by Dan Wener

He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.