30 Seconds

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30 Seconds
08 Jan 2009

image30 seconds.

Last night, as I was warming up some food for dinner in the microwave, something sparked inside of me when the microwave reached 30 seconds.

30 seconds. That’s the amount of time that my parents, my brothers, my grandparents and my friends in Netivot have to save themselves. 30 seconds – the difference between life and death.

It all started last Wednesday. The peaceful city of Netivot, where I was born and raised, which is located 20 Kilometers from Gaza – was under attack. Never before had my family, or the other residents of Netivot heard the “code red” siren; and never before did they have to make use of the bomb shelters down the street. For the first time ever, five long range missiles struck Netivot and changed the reality of the city. 30 seconds, that’s all the warning they have, to drop everything they are doing and run for their lives (literally) – what a tragic and traumatic reality.

Since Wednesday, my parents and family have been living under terror and constant fear. My oldest brother Yaron (and his fiancé) lives in Be’er Sheva, my other brother (Tal) lives with his wife and two children in Ashdod, and we have extended family and friends in Kiryat Malachi, Ashkelon, Gan Yavneh, and Ofakim. Every time a rocket lands in one of those cities, we all think about the rocket and pray to God that it didn’t hurt anybody, and that our loved ones are safe.

30 seconds. Until today, I didn’t take the time to think about the most mundane and routine things in life. You have 30 seconds to drop everything you are doing and to get to a bomb shelter. What happens if you are in the bathroom when the siren goes off? Or in the middle of taking a shower? or driving? or putting your child to sleep? My father, an administrator at a local Netivot girl’s high school, has converted the school’s large bomb shelter into a place where senior citizens, who will not be able to jump out of bed and run to the nearest bomb shelter, can sleep “peacefully” all night long. Imagine that.

It saddens me to think about just how much life has changed in Netivot, and how people are trying to make peace with this insane reality. But everything is different. As of now, 48 rockets have been fired today, 60 the day before. Everyone listens to the orders of the “home-front command” (Pikkud HaOref) and they don’t leave their homes, they are ready to run to the bomb shelter at any time. The streets are empty, the stores are closed. My parents haven’t left their house since Shabbat. People can’t listen to music if the volume is too high in fear of missing the siren. Weddings have been canceled – because you cannot gather in groups of more than 20 people. Its unbelievable… in my hometown… in Netivot.

30 seconds. How 30 seconds can change an entire reality.

דרכיה דרכי נועם, וכל נתיבותיה שלום

Limor Friedman is an OU JLI Educator at the University of Pennsylvania. She is originally from Netivot, Israel.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.