Real life beyond the headlines

Headline alert: “IDF kills Islamic Jihad leader Abu al Ata.”

Hmm. Ok. I have a deadline today. I can’t really look into it…

Message from the office: Dear Staff, please remember that the secure area in the building is the auditorium. When there is a siren, we have 2 minutes to get there. Please help visitors in the building who may not know where to go.

Hold on. What?!?!

When I arrived at the office on Tuesday morning, a few of the staff had brought their kids in because school was cancelled in the center of the country (they commute from targeted areas).

Rockets were shot at Israeli citizens and the Israel Defense Forces were hitting Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza. Even without a finalized government, Israel knows what to do and we know the army and Iron Dome will protect us.

A colleague had to go to to Tel Aviv on Tuesday afternoon and found the city shut down. The six-lane highway was nearly empty. The stores were all closed in Azrieli Mall. Clearly this was pretty serious.

My Jerusalem neighborhood on Tuesday night was silent. Usually I hear children playing in the park behind my building. But on Tuesday night I heard absolutely nothing – no voices, no cars, no cats, no neighbors. I heard fighter jets once or twice.

On Wednesday morning, a few parents were late because schools were delayed. But the kids went to school. Traffic was pretty light in Jerusalem. Wednesday night was quiet – a few voices, a few cars, a few cats, a few neighbors. Again, I heard fighter jets.

rockets

This image is from the IDF Facebook page of November 13. Source.

On Thursday, I did my weekly grocery shopping. No shortages, no panicky stock-ups. That evening the neighborhood had a huge, noisy gathering for kids. Lots of cheering. Lots of music. An MC getting the crowd all excited. Business as usual.

On Friday, there was a big birthday party in the park. It was like a mini-rave for 5-year-olds. Actors in a live show, games, music, shouts and laughter of little kids. Then it suddenly stopped. It had started to rain – regular, ordinary wet droplets.

And tonight the park was the noisiest it’s been for a while. Probably 50-75 kids were out there singing at the top of their lungs, call and response. They were playing, shouting, laughing. I shut my windows, but it was no use. Their enthusiasm was too much for my double-paned windows.

Children and their parents near the Gaza Strip don’t have the luxury of going to parks and enjoying the freedom to laugh and sing right now. But they will. Twenty-one babies were born in Ashkelon during the barrages. Babies being born is ultimately hopeful; the fact that there were so many had to do with the stress of sirens and rockets inducing labor.

But that’s Israel. We trust our army to protect us. Our incredibly flawed government will not let us down when we are under attack. And we will not be afraid.

We choose life and we celebrate it. Always.

*This post was updated to reflect the correct days of the week.