My Youngest Daughter


safetyzonesMy 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 when 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.

16 Responses to “My Youngest Daughter”

  1. michelle green says:

    my heart is breaking for you and all citizens . The decision you made, although difficult, was correct to protect your children,.My thoughts for you and your family.

    • I know that my kids would be pretty safe here, but not being able to provide supervision because of service made me want to be able to focus on my work and not worrying about what’s going on with them.

  2. Adele says:

    Hevel, I am so incredibly sorry. There are no words to express the sadness and sorrow that you and so very many others are living like this. The warning map you show is so enlightening and frightening.

  3. De says:

    I too am sorry and can not imagine. I have so much respect for you in the way you describe a reality that many of us have no experience of understanding. Be well and as always…..

    De recently posted..Still At It….My Profile

  4. Shauna says:

    This is an amazing picture you write. What a terrible situation for those on both sides. I’m sure it was with mixed emotions that you sent many of the kids away. Ihopepeacecomes so so you can all be reunited soon.

    Tonight the news reports many US airlines are canceling flights to Israel due to the rocket shelling. My first thought was of the need for planes there to carry those who want to leave. At the same time are stories of anti-Semitic violence in Paris, and the departure of a 1000 French Jews to Israel. Such a terrible mixed up time this is.

    • Those airlines and the FAA are enabling Hamas and causing damage to Israeli economy, thus further enabling Hamas…

    • Also, the sad reality is that many, many Jews in teh world feel safer in Israel amid the rockets flying than in their home countries. People claim they are not Anti-Semitic but Anti-Israel or Anti-Zionism, and yet they attack Jews who were more than happy to stay whre they were… best way to make an assimilated, settled Jew turn into a Zionist!

  5. Jon says:

    That is a heartbreakly beautiful entry.
    I really do pray that soon you, your family, and everyone involved in this mess will be able to live peaceful lives.
    That really is great that you were able to send some of your kids to a safer place. I hope they can come home soon.
    LOVE and HUGS, Jon

    • I can’t wait for the kids to get home! We are possibly getting a week long ceasefire in the near future, and then some of the kids might come home. Since the majority of them is going for a family vacation in Hungary and Austria in a week, those who are there are staying there till then for sure.

      • Jon says:

        I hope you can get some safe time for your family to be together soon.
        I recently saw a vacation advertisement for a trip to Hungary. It looks very cool. 🙂

  6. Milena says:

    I am very very sorry that you and so many others have to endure such hard times. I truly wish for peace!

  7. Kerrie Elliotc says:

    All my love to you and yours…I cannot imagine the sheer terror the sound of the sirens must invoke. What big lessons for a toddler to have to learn. Please know I am holding you close and that our home is open to you and your family…anytime.

    Sending love…xoxo

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