Exactly one week ago, on Friday morning, my husband and I set out on a “road trip” up north to the Sea of Galilee). We had heard that the heavy rains of the past couple of years had refilled the lake and it no longer looked shallow and somewhat sad. And (2) to visit Yoram’s sister and brother in law, whom we hadn’t seen since before Covid.
We set out on a leisurely trip, stopping here and there at historical and nature sites, making our way up to Tiberias and the Galilee. When we reached the city of Tiberias (a colorful city combining old and new), we made an unplanned stop at the tomb of legendary Rabbi Akiva, to offer a prayer for the health of our own little Akiva. Seeing Lake Kinneret in all its glory, shining and sparkling in the noonday sun, was a marvel. We found a grassy area under some trees near Kibbutz Ein Gev, and sat for awhile just taking in the sight. From there we traveled to the Bet Shean area, to Moshav Shadmot Mechola, and there we spent a lovely, relaxing Shabbat with Ruthie and Baruch.
On Monday our lives were overturned, when attacks and civil unrest exploded onto our scene. Since then people in many areas have spent considerable time in the shelter room (we are grateful to have one in our house), and life as we know it has been put on hold.
What caused Hamas to declare war on us (this time)? The news is full of theories. I’m not sure it matters. What matters is, that “it” is always lurking under the surface. Quiet times in Israel are not really peaceful. Will it ever end?
The civil uprisings in the cities of Lod, Jaffa, Haifa, and other cities where Arab and Jewish citizens have been living together for decades is much more disturbing to me. Has anger and hate been lurking there as well, under the surface? Apparently so.
One thing I am sure of. I do have to keep reminding myself. It is not “us” against “them”. It is a minority of us against a minority of them. And vice versa.
The majority do want peace. Want to co-exist. The majority is represented by the many Arab citizens who, after the recent Meron tragedy, came to help the Jewish people who had been injured and their families. The majority is represented by the many medical workers – Arab and Jewish doctors, nurses, and staff – who work in harmony alongside each other at our hospitals and treat patients with no regard for race, background, religion. There are many more examples of peaceful co-existence in our country.
I am glad that my 2 daughters, sons-in-law and their children (who live on Saad) were able to get away, to peaceful Yeruham an hour south of here.
The community there is amazing! Some people even offered B & B’s at no charge. Once the young two families had settled in, neighbors and seminary girls began coming with food and snacks. “How did you know we were here?” “Word gets around, we hope you enjoy your stay here.” Several people who live in that town invited the kids for private workshops in their homes. They made musical instruments from natural materials. They did artwork and sang songs. At the community playground they discovered many additional families from our kibbutz and our area. All were received with the same amazing hospitality. This morning Kinneret and her family came to pick up more clothes and set off for Jerusalem where they will spend Shabbat with family.
And this “round” (as we call it) has involved -for the first time in many years – our Tel Aviv contingent, who do not have shelter rooms in their apartment, and when a siren goes off signalling a bomb attack, must run down 3 flights of stairs to reach the building’s bomb shelter. Having to do that twice a night helped Smadar, Gadi and their 4 kids decide to go up North for the weekend, to a B & B.
Our community Whatsapp is full of offers from people all over the country to come and stay, at no charge, at B & B’s, at guest houses, at people’s homes. Come for meals, come for a break, please let us help out. One couple just sent a message through a friend: We booked a long weekend at (a certain) B &B (one of the BEST and most expensive in Israel) and just feel that it’s not right for us to go at such a time. We are offering our weekend at no charge to a couple from one of the endangered areas. Please call us at…..Amazing!
So life as we know it, is currently on hold. No school. Much of the public transportation to/from our area has been stopped. Some of the roads are closed. During Covid, we were able to take long walks around the periphery of the kibbutz, near the wheat fields and avocado orchards. Now we stay close to shelters.
Places of work and stores remain open, but deliveries are few and far between (for example, no newspaper or mail service). Luckily our supermarket is well stocked and open from morning till evening, every day.
One of our daily challenges: How do you decide when would be a good time to shower? What will you do if the siren goes off while you’re in the shower? You have 5 – 7 seconds to get to the shelter room before a bomb might hit. Hmmm. Maybe, after 4 sirens in one hour, you say – now there will be some quiet. Or, do you decide that if it’s been quiet for a couple of hours, it would be the right time?
Statistically I can tell you that there is no correct answer….you just take your chances and get in and out as fast as you can!
Meanwhile, I received a Whatsapp asking who could bake cakes for the many soldiers who have been assigned to guard our kibbutz and our area. Two cakes and a watermelon later, duly delivered, I am continuing this email.
So, yes, things can change at an unbelievable speed. Life brings challenges. We shall prevail. We have to! Thank you for your prayers. We are so grateful for your support and love.