Checking In

“In America, despite shooting sprees, crime, and any other danger we face from car accidents to hurricanes, we live our lives without focusing on the risks primarily because the odds of something tragic happening to us are one in a jillion. I don’t expect my friends in America to check in when a shooting takes place in their city, nor do they.” – Benji Lovitt (full article here)

Terrorist attacks aren’t typical crimes. When there’s a homicide or burglary in Israel (or America), I doubt there are expectations to check in. Yet when it’s an act of random violence targeting a specific population or area, be it a terrorist/hate shooting or a tornado, I want to know that my loved ones are safe.

I learned about the shootings happening four miles from my house at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and Village Shalom in 2014 from a friend in Minnesota who texted to make sure I was alright. I learned about tornado touchdowns in my area this spring when my aunt in Ohio texted to make sure I was ok.

I believe Kansas City, especially Overland Park, is a very safe place to live. And yes, there were many nights in Jerusalem where I felt safer than I ever have alone at night in the States. Yet whether I’m in Israel or Kansas, when something out of the ordinary happens that might possibly affect me, friends and family want me to check in to know that I’m safe. The wish for a loved one to check in may speak to the fact that the dangerous situation is out of the ordinary and not part of regular life. Or, the frequency of the potential danger may have nothing to do with it.

The process of checking in may instead speak to the fact that we have loving friends and family who worry at the slightest chance that we are in harm’s way. These same people also want to know when we’ve made it to our destination on a road trip or landed safely when flying.

In the the case of danger, social media is a quick and easy way to communicate that we are ok to our dearest friends. And when that danger is shared on national or international media, that person we met once who remembers us positively enough to be concerned for our well being when they hear something bad happened in the city we may or may not still live in appreciates the check in, too. It may be sensationalized, but it’s mostly because they care.

Social media, along with all forms of communication, has it’s drawbacks. My husband’s grandfather was serving overseas during World War II and wrote a letter home to his family everyday. When he was in deployment in Italy, there was no mail going in or out. The family panicked when they stopped receiving letters. Eventually, the mail service resumed and they learned that he was ok. My husband always told me the moral of this story is “never write home everyday.”

Yes, there are times when we may be asleep, in a movie, observing Shabbat, or otherwise away from our phones and not even aware that something terrible has happened. Yes, people may panic trying to get a hold of us. However, they will probably be worrying regardless. So for the sake of the Jewish mothers in all of us, please check in when you can.

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