When I logged onto Facebook right after Shabbat tonight, I was barraged with dozens of messages; my friends from throughout the country alerting their family and friends that they’d survived the weekend intact, despite the fact that Hamas rockets have now reached Tel Aviv, the Jerusalem outskirts and yes, even Gush Etzion where we live. “We’re OK”, many of my friends noted, “and praying for peace to come quickly to Israel.”
I’d like to counter, however, that while we are fortunate to be alive and well, are most certainly not OK. When the air-raid siren went off shortly after Shabbat came in, I ushered the children into the safe room, and we waited there for a few minutes, until we figured it would be safe to come out. I tiptoed out first, heading to the back porch, where I often meet my building-mates for a quick schmooze or exchange of items. The children, however, were not quite as brave. They opted to stay in the safe room for another hour, afraid that the siren might once again wail.
When it came to bedtime, the two older girls were downright petrified. They ended up sleeping in the same bed, ostensibly because one had things in her bed, and it was too dark to move them…but I knew better. Odelia opted to sleep in the boys’ room because it’s closer to the bathroom, where the lone light shines on Shabbat night. And of course, don’t you know that light in the night scares away those nasty rockets?
When sending the children to shul alone this morning (yes, it’s perfectly acceptable and even legal around here to send children out in the streets alone!), I gave them a quick lesson about what to do in case they heard sirens on the way.
The engagement part that we’d been invited to tonight was cancelled because the new groom was required to stay in the army. Tonight’s Bnei Akiva (youth) event was moved from its normal venue to a new one, because the neighborhood basketball court is too far from buildings, which may leave hundreds of people vulnerable in case the siren sounds. Public bomb shelters are being opened in Tel Aviv, a city long considered immune to warfare. The siren went off last night in Jerusalem, for the first time in over a decade.
Last night Odelia told me not to worry – if we pray hard enough, G-d will protect us against the Romans. And then, in the midst of my first security crisis, I experienced another first – I laughed heartily, despite the dire situation. Then I explained to her that it’s no longer the Romans who are trying to kill us. And that while we must pray, prayer is not enough – we must also take action to ensure our safety, which means deploying our soldiers and heading to the bomb shelters when necessary.
Does this sound like things are OK? I think not.