written June 20, 2007
There comes a moment in every one’s life when time stands still… I have always been told about moments where peoples lives “flash before their eyes” and hearts stop beating, and I have had experiences like that but not to such an intense degree.
An hour ago 5 Kassamim landed in Sderot.
I have the privilege this summer of volunteering in an ambulance in Sderot working as a medic as well as going door to door to different bomb shelters to find out what the citizens of Sderot need.
After the day is over all the volunteers gather together to march through the streets of Sderot and sing songs on the top of their lungs like, “Am Yisrael Chai” (the nation of Israel is alive) and “Am HaNetzach Lo Mifached” (the eternal nation is not afraid) and dance throughout the streets of Sderot.
I wish I could accurately describe the emotions I felt as we danced and sang through the streets. Families ran to windows to see us. People drove next to us and honked their horns to the beat of the song. Children came running to dance with us. And on their tired faces were smiles that penetrated the darkest alleys.
Suddenly in the midst of a song there was a noise that I will never forget. It sounded like a car backfiring but your heart told you it was something else. Then came the alarm… “Tzevah Adom! Tzevah Adom!” (Code Red, Code Red). Over and over again. We were walking with a group of high school students who had come to volunteer for the day. All the madrichim (group leaders) pushed the students against the wall of a building we were next to and had them huddle against each other with their hands above their heads and their feet pushed up against their chest. People who were driving on the streets stopped their car and left them running with the doors open as they ran for their lives looking for some form of shelter, be it a wall or a building. From all around us people were running to find somewhere safe to go. There wasn’t a sound. The entire city of Sderot was holding their breaths.
From the moment you hear the alarm to the time the Kassamim falls you have 10-15 seconds to find safety. Everyone who comes into Sderot is given a Hadracha (lesson) on what to do when you hear that alarm. While I was sitting in that class with other medics and were being taught the best way to move a body as quickly as possible while Kassamim are falling I remember thinking, “I refuse to believe that they really live like this”… Now I believe it.
All of the students were huddled against the wall when we heard 3 more booms. It was then that a child ran out into the street. Her mother began screaming her name while desperately trying to calm her other 2 children. I ran into the street, scooped up the little girl, and ran back to the wall.
It was at that moment that for me time stopped. As I pushed her body against the wall trying desperately to cover her shaking body with my own it occurred to me that if a kassam fell on me there would be nothing I could do to protect her precious, innocent, and tiny being. I remember thinking, “there is nothing I can do to save this neshama (soul).” My heart stopped beating at the realization that I was completely powerless to protect this child.
It was then that I felt 3 distinct emotions: A deep deep Anger, an explosive Hatred, and an Intense Pride.
My first thought was, “I will never forgive the people who are making my mishpacha (family) live like this”. My second thought was, “I deeply hate these people who have caused my mishpacha to hold their breaths in fear”. And my final thought was, “I am a part of this mishpacha”.
Am Yisrael Chai.
Suddenly there was silence and a madrich from the group screamed, “Am Yisrael Chai”. Like a wave of energy and pride that crashes against the shore of a silent beach, everyone rose from their huddled position in a roar and began to dance and sing with all the energy they could possibly find. It was then that I understood the meaning of those words. As we sit there with our hands on our heads and our knees huddled up to our chins we are very much alive. Our hearts are beating and our energy is radiating.
Am Yisrael Chai.
That was my final thought as I tightly held the body of that shaking child. Am Yisrael Chai. We are very much alive.
B’Chol Dor V’Dor, in every generation they will try to destroy us, and in every generation they will fail.
We continued to dance throughout the city. A little girl ran up to me and tugged at my skirt. I bent down and threw her onto my shoulders. She shrieked in pure delight and my heart filled with a penetrating and radiating simcha that I have never felt. Am Yisrael Chai. In the midst of the pain, in the midst or the terror, and in the midst of this war, children are laughing on the shoulders of others, people are dancing through the streets, and life moves on…
5 Kassamim fell tonight in Sderot. 2 Israelis were injured and 7 are now in shock. There is a war going on in Israel. The people of Sderot cannot leave their homes without worrying. They cannot drive 2 meters without having to leave their cars and run for cover. They cannot live their normal everyday lives that we all take for granted. They are chayalim (soldiers) on the front lines of a battle we should all be fighting.
Close your eyes and imagine it was YOUR home, YOUR city, or YOUR family that was being threatened. Imagine that it was YOUR child that ran out into the street during a direct attack. Imagine it was YOUR life that was being constantly threatened… What would you do? Would you move? You have nowhere to go and no money to take you there. Would you fight? The enemy is miles and miles away and the country is not taking an active stance to help you. You feel alone, powerless, and tired. What next?
Am Yisrael IS AT WAR. There is no clearer way to say this. Your mishpacha is being attacked right now as we speak. “Their Problem” is “YOUR PROBLEM”.
What are you going to do!? What now? I beg of you to close your eyes and imagine that someone you loved with all your neshama was being threatened. Whatever you feel at this moment, I beg you, cherish it, save it, USE IT.
We NEED YOU! ACT, FIGHT, DO. Take your energy, your passion, your concern, and your LOVE and USE IT!
In those moments of silence we spent pressed against the wall we all contemplated the reality that these might just be our last moments on this earth. It was then that it occurred to me that I am tired of the silence. WE NEED TO HEAR YOUR VOICES!
Write a letter to the government. Send money. Come visit. MOVE HERE. MAKE NOISE!
Am Yisrael Chai. We know it. Now its time we let the world know.
Make noise. Let them hear you sing!
There will come a day when the world will know that we are alive and well. There will come a day when the universe will understand that we will not stand by and let our nation be attacked or our mishpacha tremble. There is no reason why that day cannot be today.
Am Yisrael Chai. Act like it.
B’Hatzlacha al HaKol (with luck in everything).
B’Zchut Shalom B’Yisrael (in the merit of peace in Israel)… Make Noise.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.