Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A boring e-mail from Netivot

I received an e-mail from my cousin Danielle who lives in Netivot a city in Southern Israel near Beer Sheva.  Netivot was founded in 1956 and is within the 1948 borders.  It has a population of over 25,000, mostly lower income people, and it absorbed a great deal of Russian and Ethiopian immigrants.   Netivot is under constant attack from rockets fired from Gaza.  A single attack would be a traumatic experience for a person of any age.  I cannot imagine how traumatic it is for children, parents, anyone, who must endure these frequent attacks that can and do happen at any time day or night.
When I started blogging I was determined to use my blog to share happy news and upbeat human interest stories that I encounter as a Rabbi in Nebraska.  But when I received this from Danielle I felt compelled to share it with you, my readers.  
Danielle, I wish I knew how I could help!  I daven every day that Israel should have peace and security.  All though I cannot truly know what you and your family live through, I hear about what you live through.  And I stand with you and with all of Israel.  

I thought I'd share this, because some of you have no clue what's going on halfway across your own country. And others have no idea what's happening halfway across the world. And I'm one of those naïve believers who keeps thinking… if people only knew what we live through…
So it's ten twenty. Night. Husband on way home from a meeting in Tel-Aviv (yes, the other part of the country). I have successfully maneuvered putting all three children, ages four years, two years, and three-month-old, to bed. Going over emails is getting boring, and suddenly there's that sound. It takes a split-second to recognize it, since I hear it over and over again in my head for the past four years ever since my oldest son was born (a few months before Operation Cast Lead, December 2008), so I need to confirm that I'm not just humming that old tune. But, alas, it's that same siren. Yup, and it's definitely coming from our town, not from one of the regional councils a few miles away. And now comes the tricky part. Since it's a first for me.
Which child do I pick up first? 
It's a first for me, since I'm alone, with three children at home, all asleep, none in a protected area (i.e., clear of windows and external walls). Do I go for the baby? Last time I grabbed him out of his crib and woke him and decided that this is how traumas begin, so I told myself that next time I'd just wheel him in with his carriage, so as not to interrupt his peaceful baby sleep. But what about my two-year-old daughter? She's the one who's really having a hard time, stopping short every time an ambulances passes, mistaking it for a siren. After sitting up with her an hour-and-a-half after the last mid-night siren, I told myself that next time I'd carry her in gently, so as not to wake her at all. But what about my oldest son—the one who has been living for four years under the missile threat, who is most aware of the situation and reminds me every time we visit our parents, that there, up north, we are safe—forget the emotional consequences, he's on top of a bunk-bed I can't climb up!
This all takes a split-second. I don't have much more than that. A little more than half-a-minute before the rocket lands. I run for my oldest, hoping to wake him to get him to climb down the ladder. Yea right. I climb up the ladder, pull him by the leg towards me, hold him carefully as I run toward safe area, and lay him gently on the carpet. Back to kids' room, have no idea how I got number two out of the tractor-turned-bunk-bed trenches below. Bring her into safe area. On my way to my room to get the baby I note to myself that the siren has stopped. Grab stroller and wheel into safe room just as loud explosion is heard. 
We're safe. For now. Two oldest are still sleeping. Baby stirring. He'll need to wait a minute or two since I can't really stop this thumping in my chest, and I’m not sure how that tastes. Then I'll calm him down, put him back to sleep and remind myself that next time I should try to be a little more gentle with him. 
Back to those boring emails. Boring is good.