My youngest daughter is 16 months old. She is in that phase between babyhood and toddlerhood when she is just learning so much each day. She can identify everyone in our family when you ask her to point so and so out–and in our family it’s quite an accomplishment–she adds to her vocabulary every day, and she knows that wen the sirens sound she has to go with the adult in charge of her into a shelter, that there will be a loud boom and then she can play again.
Last week I was at her nursery school to pick her up when the sirens sounded. Her teachers immediately grabbed as many of the kids as they could–about half of the kids there don’t walk yet–and ran for shelter, herding the rest of the kids, while trying to remain calm and cheerful in their voice.
We live in the Tel Aviv area, we have about a minute to make it to safety. But closer to the Gaza Strip residents have about 15 seconds. Can you imagine being a nursery teacher with 6 kids under 2 years in your care, trying to make sure they are all safe when the alarms sound? Kids my daughters’ age are spending their summer camp in shelters, because it’s an impossible task. But can you just imagine being a young mother or father with three kids strapped into car seats when the air raid alerts come on? How do you decide which one of your kids to unbuckle and take to safety in those 15, 30, 45 seconds? How do you make a decision like that?
Yesterday a rocket actually hit the Tel Aviv area. Yesterday we lost even more soldiers, and yesterday more civilians lost their lives in Gaza. Yesterday was the day when I made the decision that I don’t ever want to have to choose between my kids, and sent those, who I was allowed, to safety with family abroad. I had that possibility, because I have family who can do that for us, I can afford plane tickets (even if it wiped my savings out) and my kids have passports and citizenships that make it possible. Not everyone is this lucky. I worry every day about my friends in the South, who have nowhere to go with their children. And yes, my heart aches for those tens of thousands of people who are now displaced in Gaza.
As I was writing this post, I was interrupted by rocket alerts three times. Each time coming back I needed a cool down period, not to let hate take over. As I type this now Israel has been rocket free for 21 minutes. You can keep track of how long we have been rocket free here.
My youngest daughter is still here, in Israel, with her mother and I taking turns taking care of her, relying on the nursery school as little as possible. She is not afraid of the sirens. She just knows what she needs to do, and she does it well. She is learning songs and riddles about the alerts, and she is looking forward to playing with a few special toys that she only gets to play with in the shelter. This is her childhood. There are more photos in her baby book for this month of her taken in shelters than taken outside, in the middle of the summer. When in ten, fifteen years we look through that book I hope she will be living in a peaceful Israel.
For now, she is living through our Israeli reality.
Now it’s Wednesday, and I might end up posting my 7QT today, because I have no idea when I’ll get to blog tomorrow if at all. While I said that I would be blogging less, recycling two posts from the past, and sharing an experience during an air raid made my blog busier than usually. Oh, by the way, go read that post. It involves coffee, it’s less than 300 words long, and it’s pretty good.
Yesterday, after too long a time, I finally made it to another Harel Skaat show. As usual, it was fabulous. I had a little too much to drink before and after the show (no, I still wasn’t drunk, but one more drink would have made me drunk!) and for a change I relaxed and went to sleep without any meds. In this most un-normal of times an evening felt oh so normal. Even if song selection and commentary by RL was heavily influenced by current affairs in Israel.
From an earlier performance, RL singing the 121st psalm:
My youngest has recently started to put words together when she signs. She has also discovered that if she says something I react to it, but I will only sign back to her. It’s kinda funny, because now she seems to have an active sign vocabulary that differs from her active speech vocabulary quite a bit. She has about 20 words and 15 signs that she uses as of today, but there are new words appearing every day! Her signing is slower, and as long as she understands what I sign to her, I am not too concerned.It is only in sign, however, that she is using phrases now, so I think we are right on track with that as well. Of course she hears a lot more speech than she sees signing, and then often even my signing is accompanied by someone’s interpretation as well, so who knows.
I have been planning on sharing more about our crafting and cold porcelain adventures. I tweaked the recipe I use a bit more, and we have some pretty things to show. Like this flower. We painted this one with acrylic paint after it dried, and I think this will be an approach for colouring that we will use. I have also made owl eyes from pre-coloured pieces of cold porcelain, and I need to glue them onto some crochet work and show pictures as well.
Mentioning crochet. I finally finished a few pieces I have been working on. I found several descriptions, usually translated from Finnish, for “converse” slippers, which, again, I tweaked. I am planning to post my tweaks and the link to the original description as soon as I finish my third pair. Till then, here is a pair I made for my daughter, but ended up my niece’s and the first adult one. Crochet is my one remaining activity resembling normalcy. I am usually too tired to make any significant progress with my work, but I try to crochet (or knit) a few rows each day. I usually do it as Kevin FaceTimes with the kids in Hungary. The kids have a blast with Uncle Dan and cousins, and can’t wait for the rest of the family (except Itamar and I) to join them early August for two weeks. While they are gone, if the situation doesn’t normalize, two families who are friends with my family with house sit for us. They are from the south (see next quick take) and they could use the break. I am planning to stay somewhere in the city for those two weeks. I hope to crochet a lot and go to another Harel Skaat concert!
While it might seem from my blog that the situation in Israel is not all that serious. As I have said before, in many ways, Tel Aviv is its own little bubble. It is not like the rest of Israel in many, many aspects. So while it might seem that rockets are a mere inconvenience for Israelis, it is not etirely true. While Tel Aviv experienced two or three alerts a day, there are areas that got several each hour. People in the South are advised to stay within 15 seconds from a bomb shelter at all times. Can you imagine living your life with an eye on a shelter all the time, and not even being safe enough to go to the grocery store, or even to get into your car? I can’t, and I’m in the same country, in the same conflict, but twenty, thirty, hundred kilometers away.
Some of you have been telling me you are worried about my safety, and I really appreciate your concern. While indeed it is not always safe here, it is a lot safer than in other parts of Israel, or in areas of Gaza. Those of you who pray, please don’t forget to pray for the people you might not know, but for whom rockets are more than an annoyance. Please also pray for the 70k people in Gaza, who were left without electricity. One of the rockets fired from Gaza damaged a power line near the border in Israel, and this line supplies southern Gaza with electricity. Because it was too dangerous for crews to repair the damage, it seemed like they would be left without power indefinitely, but Israel Electric Corporation employees fixed it amid continued rocket fire.
Yesterday (Tuesday) in accordance with an Egypt brokered ceasefire agreement, Israel halted air strikes in Gaza for six hours. During this time over 50 rockets were fired from Gaza to Israel. Hamas didn’t even consider the ceasefire.
I have quoted Golda Meir before, saying that there will be peace when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us… I think many, many Arabs love their children more than they hate us, but they have not the courage or power to rid themselves of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
I’d like to thank Jen for volunteering to post this to the link up! I don’t have access to the link ups from my new work, and I am on my own laptop at very random times. However, email subscription to my blog has been finally fixed, so feel free subscribe to be kept updated! Thanks for visiting!
THE WIND WILL CHANGE DIRECTION (translation from hebrewsongs.com)
Lyrics: Esther Shamir; Music: Uri Zah
Sometimes when Tel Aviv doesn’t shut down
I go down to the Café in the corner
I look at the traffic which doesn’t stop
Even when something happens in the country
I am like a falling leaf when something happens
But order another cup of coffee to the table
What is my stand if every week
Anyone can make the world insane Continue reading Because Harel Skaat
So I'm standing in line, getting an Ice Aroma, because it's summer, and because someone will either know sign language at Aroma, or will be ready to deal with me being a non-speaker. You know, Aroma employs a lot of us, Israelis living with disabilities. And they are everywhere. And I think they are cheaper than the major competitors, except that one place where everything is 5 sheqels. Anyway, being happy to finally be on my way home, I order, I pay, I get my drink, I am happy…
…and then the siren sounds as yet again rockets target Tel Aviv from Gaza. The girl behind me, a tourist from the USA judging by her accent, is startled and bumps into me, making me knock my coffee over.
I am pissed off, because my coffee is gone. Yes, there are rockets coming my way, but as my motto says, “In Iron Dome We Trust”, I focus my thoughts on that delicious Ice Aroma. And how I probably have no more money on my card, and absolutely no cash on me. Because Israel is aiming to eliminate cash to reduce money laundering. Also being angry about my coffee allows me not to worry about what my children are doing, whether they are safe, where the rocket or its shrapnel will land, will there be damage, will people be hurt, where is the nearest shelter, when will this all end?
Focusing on spilled coffee allows me to go through the motions of ensuring my own safety with the least amount of panic. Anger replaces fear for a few moments, and we wait.
When it's over, the sirens fall silent and the city is once again safe, I leave for home.
Last week I wrote about the horrible murder of an Arab teen. His murderers, Jewish extremists, have been arrested. The Israeli press has been patting ourselves on the back about how differently the Jews reacted to his murder from the Arabs’ reactions to the kidnapping of the Jewish teenagers. I wouldn’t be so proud of our reactions, mine included, because we did hope it was an Arab murder to frame the Jews. It wasn’t. I am horrified at what happened and I really can’t find the words to express how awful it is. I am generally anti-death-penalty, but right now I wish there was peace time death penalty in Israel. Those people don’t deserve to live.
Yes, I spent my lunch break looking for shelter. Just a few hours earlier the first red alert came as I was on the bus. We were nowhere near a shelter (especially with my walking speed, I was nowhere near a shelter), so it was the classic get down on the floor and cover your head. On a bus in rush hour. Yes. It was quite an experience.
If you are inclined to pray, here is the prayer for the Israel Defense Forces:
He Who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — may He bless the fighters of the Israel Defense Forces, who stand guard over our land and the cities of our God, from the border of the Lebanon to the desert of Egypt, and from the Great Sea unto the approach of the Aravah, on the land, in the air, and on the sea.
May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighters from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor.
May He lead our enemies under our soldiers’ sway and may He grant them salvation and crown them with victory. And may there be fulfilled for them the verse: For it is the Lord your God, Who goes with you to battle your enemies for you to save you.
Now let us respond: Amen.
And here is the prayer with the Kabbalistic poem/prayer Ana Bekoach playing under it:
The song above was recorded at the time when Israel was preparing for the unilateral disengagement from Gaza. Nine years ago Israel withdrew from Gaza, leaving behind the land and quite a bit of infrastructure. Unfortunatelly the elected government thinks it’s more important to eliminate Israel than to build up Gaza. Even as we are attacked every hour from Gaza, Israel is sending aid and power to Gaza and Israeli hospitals treat Gazans–just recently the wife of Abbas underwent treatment in an Israeli hospital.
On a happier note: Two days ago one of the first red alerts in Tel Aviv we had a power outage, and when the power came back on a few seconds later, the power surge killed our freezer’s fuse. The contents partially defrosted, so I had to make something to save all that meat. I ended up throwing a bunch of chicken wings with two bottles of BBQ sauce in the slow cooker, and told the kids to turn it off in 4 hours. They forgot about it, and when I got home I had the best ever meal: the meat was so tasty and tender, we will make this accidental recipe again.
I have a serious statement to make. For a long time it has been painfully obvious that I am different. This feeling has recently intensified, and now it is time I publicly admit that I do not like Orange Is The New Black. At all. It very well might be that I am the only person with access to Netflix to not like that show.
The usual reaction I get when I tell people that. I don't like it is not unlike when I tell someone I'm not a Christian or that I'm gay. They usually try to convert me.
Unfortunatelly I think I'm beyond OITNB salvation. I usually skip posts about it on FB, but recently one of my FB froends posted that men are pissed off for men being misrepresented in the show. I really can't remember much of the men from the first six episodes, other than the weird counselor interested in Lesbian sex and the utterly boring Larry. (Is Larry his name?) I don't know if men are misrepresented or not, because they are barely present in my memories, but aren't men and women usually misrepresented in television? And since this is a show with prison inmate women POV the men are like the way the characters see them.
One of my friends thinks that there are just not enough men on the show for my liking. That might be true, and even those, as I said above, are forgettable enough to me that I remember better what cookbook Piper and her boyfriend have than hat her boyfriend is called. (Larry, right?)
I have to say the highlight of my viewing experience was Captain Janeway Red's initial story. Though even then I thought that the story was enough for ten minutes less than the length of the episode. I did get that feeling on most every episode, though, so I decided to go back to Leverage. Or Warehouse 13. Or Falling Skies.
As an aside, as I was looking for a picture for this post, this is what appeared on my screen, multiple times:
You can tell it’s Tel Aviv because people are not all running like crazy. Some don’t really believe that the rocket will hit, because it’s been two decades since the last one. Some remain calm because they know they have a full minute to find shelter unlike in the cities in the South, where rockets hit in 15 seconds.
I had several fun posts planned for this week. Posts about crafts, about books, television, cooking, music, silly things. Some are already partially written, and I was looking forward to posting them.
Then on Monday, June 30, 2014, the bodies of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaer of blessed memory were discovered not far from Hebron. The three boys were 19, 16 and 16. They had been kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on June 12, and the news of their kidnapping was widely celebrated by Palestinians with parties and handing out sweets. Soon after the three boys were taken by the terrorists on their way home from school, they were murdered, and their bodies hidden to be used as leverage in future negotiations to release Palestinian terrorists from Israeli prisons, just like the one who was released in the Gilad Shalit deal, only to go on and murder a Jewish father this past Passover eve.
I was watching a DVD with my family, when one of my older boys, who had been actively involved in the search for the boys, texted me. “Turn on the TV.” So we did. There was supposed to be a broadcast of some World Cup match. Instead, there was a brief newsflash.
While the IDF and police were concentrating forces in the West Bank, searching for the boys, the rocket attacks from Gaza returned. They have intensified in the last week, and once again we were reminded of the reality of living in the Middle East. Between the news of the murders of three kids and the realization that the relative lull since Pillar of Defense was now over, my gut instinct was to start packing, and move. Go back to Ireland, or Hungary, or anywhere, really, where it’s safe, and where I only have to deal with the anti-Semitism of the people, and not the threat of yet another war.
However, as we were reciting the mourner’s Kaddish, we got to the lines, Oseh shalom bimromav hu ya’ase shalom aleinu v’al kol Yisrael. He Who makes peace in his heights, may he make peace upon us and upon all Israel. Once again I remembered: there is a reason for me to be here. By giving up and fleeing, I’m handing victory over to those very terrorists, who have only one goal: to make the State of Israel past tense.
Funerals were held, three boys buried. They were about the same age as my children, but while my boys will hopefully grow into adults, these boys will forever remain teenagers. Trying to understand this senseless tragedy, news reports of Arabs attacking the ambulance carrying their bodies, having, once again, only the bodies returned, has sparked protests and clashes between protesters and law enforcement, as well as between Arabs and Jews. There is a dead Palestinian teenager, who is also an innocent victim of the situation that has been escalating quickly. While many people claim that the Palestinian teen was killed by Palestinians themselves to frame Israel, it is besides the point. Another boy is dead.
The rocket fire from Gaza and the IAF response are hurting people. The Western media is inclined to distort the facts, reporting Israeli air strikes, but not the Hamas rockets raining over the South. People die. They killed our boys. We are not justified to kill their boys.
Please follow the link and read his entire post. For standing up for what he believes is right he is being ostracised, threatened and dragged through the mud. Mohammad Zoabi is 16, like two Naftali and Gilad. He is Muslim, the relative of Arab MK (Member of the Knesset, the Israeli equivalent of a congressman) Haneen Zoabi. He is another innocent victim in this whole nightmare.
In all this craziness, I am remembering Eldad Regev and Udi Goldwasser, who were kidnapped by Hezbollah on July 12, 2006. This kidnapping led to the Second Lebanon War in the same year. Two years and three days later, just a few days after my family moved to Israel, their bodies were returned in exchange for five Hezbollah members and the remains of nearly 200 militants. I will never forget seeing their coffins arrive. We had not known if they were alive for those two years. We could only hope and pray. In reality, they both died the day they were taken. But as a nation, as the people of Israel we couldn’t stop hoping, and we couldn’t leave them behind.
Eldad Regev was born a year and a half before me. I’m now seven years older than he ever will be.
I am angry. I’m also very sad. I’m mad at those people who killed our boys. I’m angry with the people who killed that Palestinian teenager. I’m very angry with those Americans who claim to support their troops but criticize their President for bringing their one prisoner of war home from Afghanistan, who would have gladly abandoned Bowe Bergdahl. Those people don’t understand what supporting the troops means. They don’t understand what not leaving anyone behind means. Not giving up on someone till the moment they come home–dead or alive–is what supporting our troops, supporting our boys mean.
So here we are, in this small segment of the Middle East. A week of crashed hopes and a week of mourning is coming to an end as we prepare for the Shabbat to come in. We sanctify and enjoy the Shabbat. We say our prayers and sing our songs. We enjoy the company of our loved ones, but in the back of our minds there are three families who will never, ever be whole again for the Shabbat.