After hearing from my friends about all the air raid sirens, and running to shelter (sometimes are very inopportune times), I finally heard an air raid. Although I didn’t run anywhere, I just stayed in bed and went to sleep. It wasn’t because there was no where to run, nor was it because I wanted to catch a glimpse of a rocket or the iron dome, but rather because I didn’t need to run. This summer I am working at a camp in upstate New York, and the air raid siren is for the volunteer fire department, it is not a warning of incoming rockets.
Laying there in bed that night was strange and surreal. As it is, reading the news from here in camp is a very bizarre experience. In 2012 when rockets started flying to other places than the South, and they called up the reserves to go and fight, I was a big ball of nerves. It was really hard for me to concentrate, and I remember checking the news every chance I had, to see if something was happening. During that time I even experienced my first air raid, walking briskly down the stairs at school to the bomb shelter- both freaking out inside but bizarrely calm at the same time. But during this time I went to school and work as usual. I knew and saw that life was going on- things were a bit tense, but we were doing what we had to do.
But here I am, in the middle of the woods, with a gorgeous calming lake, and have found myself constantly reading about a siren going off every few hours or minutes. I’m seeing my friends post on Facebook about the sirens going off and where they were. I see my friends posting about being called up for miluim or friends who are currently in the army posting less than usual. I had to send an email to my subletters about finding the bomb shelter and where my roommate and myself keep our gas masks. I can feel my body and mind tense up knowing everything that is happening, but in someway it feels like that is all that is happening. It is so easy to forget that people are also going to work and to parties and being with friends.
When this all started my day basically looked like this: checking the news, going to davening, checking the news, learning, checking the news, teaching, checking the news, going to lunch, checking the news, teaching, checking the news, going to dinner, checking the news, learning, checking the news, going to bed. In between I might pray or talk to God to ask for a quieter more peaceful time, where the checking the news is not a constant thing. That I can actually enjoy the trees and the lake around me. That I don’t have to remind myself to calm down a bit because I need to now teach 9 year-olds, and I need to be present with them, not worried about the rockets flying at my friends and family.
I feel conflicted now- I am a bit calmer and not constantly checking the news, although I know that things are changing, not always for the better. I hear from people that they want to be in Israel now, and I kinda don’t. Why would I want to go when there are rockets flying. It is different if I am already there, but to go purposefully to be near the rockets, that just seems stupid. And then with all the killings- are the Gazans really putting their kids on the front lines and that is why they are dying- but still the kids are dying and that is a horrible thing. People shouldn’t be dying just because. The people living in the South shouldn’t be sitting in their shelters on a regular basis. Children should be allowed to play where they want, and shouldn’t need to know the cute song about what to do when a rocket falls (that a very brilliant teacher created- don’t get me wrong).
I hope and pray for a day that children and people on both sides are able to have everything that they need, and are able to walk around without thinking about where the closest shelter is, and children should never have to learn the rocket protection song.