I’ve been living in Israel since I graduated ICJA in 2002, and I have been in Herzliya as part of a “Garin Torani” since 2003. For the sixth year in a row, I am co-directing a summer camp in cooperation with Bnei Akiva, the “Garin Torani,” and the local community center for several hundred preschool through fifth graders in Herzliya. It’s an area that has been a target for the missiles from Gaza over the past two weeks.
Now that I’m home from a long day at camp, and I had time to rest for three minutes, I began thinking about our day. Dealing with air raid sirens when you’re with family, neighbors or friends is one thing. You feel a little stressed (or sometimes more than a little), you run or walk downstairs to the closest secure place or shelter, you wait, you calm those who are a little more stressed this time, you check the news on your cell phone right away and after 10 minutes go by, you return to your everyday life and routine (or somewhat of a routine).
We’re been through these things. But today, we experienced our first air raid siren during camp; the first thought that comes to mind are the lives of the 300 kids and about 20 staff members. There is no time to be scared, no time to be stressed, just time to act, and immediately. Thank G-d everyone got to secure places and shelters within the required minute and a half. They were amazing – even better than during our drills and better than I had pictured as I tried to fall asleep at night over the past few days. A few kids asked me if this was another drill and I had to tell them, “No, this time it’s not a drill.” And then we wait for the boom. Here’s the first one. Boom. And another one. Boom. And another. Boom. Boom. You feel the ground tremble a bit, although the iron dome shot the missiles far enough away that even the booms aren’t all that loud. But, everything is relative.
My cell phone rings constantly throughout the day with warnings about the various sirens throughout the country: Ashkelon, Ashkelon (coast), Ashdod, Be’er Tuvia, Eshkol region, Ofakim, Be’er Sheva, Sderot, Haifa, Nahariya, Tel Aviv and on and on. And each time I’m asked, “Where now?” But how can we even be comforted by the fact that the strikes weren’t right by us?! We’re all brothers, sisters, one big family! We’re not used to these types of things in our area, thank G-d, and now each loud or sudden noise increases our heartbeats. Was that another siren? No, just an ambulance. Just the phone. Just the doorbell.
One of the teachers who has been working at the school for many years said that today was the first time since she started at the school, that there was a real air raid siren during school or camp hours. We hope that G-d willing these types of occurrences will not be part of anyone’s daily routine. And I know that all that is left to do is to thank Hashem for all of the miracles that He does for us every day, and especially for the hundreds of miracles over the past weeks. They’re attacking us from Gaza and Lebanon, from all directions, and each missile that did not hurt someone is a miracle. So thank you, Hashem! For the miracles that You are doing for us “b’zman ha’ze” – in our time! For the privilege You gave us – me – to live in the State of Israel! May Hashem continue to watch over us and our righteous soldiers, who are protecting us and fighting for us. And may the Jewish people be able to live quietly, calmly, and in unity in our land in the near future, without any threats from anywhere.
By Dina (Molotsky) Feuchtwanger, Class of ’02