A heart-felt letter from Danielle, our Camp Head Counselor now in Israel

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…And that, my friends, is the sound of a siren warning that a rocket is aimed at Jerusalem…one minute to run and take cover…to grab tehillim, your phone, your siddur…to imagine that this uncontrollable beating of your heart in your chest (emotion over intellect) is commonplace in the places down south where the tzeva adom (red alert) is an everyday occurrence, where a racing pulse is perhaps no longer even the reaction to their reality…to pray, to plea…to take account of where your friends are, where your family is…to wait, to wonder…to emerge cautiously, to laugh nervously, to ask where — and not need to ask why…to be thankful for our continued health and safety, and to wish for shalom (peace, wholeness) for Israel as well as for our neighbors.

This marks the first time I’ve ever heard that blare, ever had to run — feeling simultaneously foolish and helpless, sure I’m safe yet unsure entirely as we can never be sure of anything in this surreal situation…startled still now, I realize, hours later, by the unexpected noises from the street, the sky, the room upstairs, next door…

My roommate is tutoring a little boy in English who has just walked in, and as she offers him water, he asks instead where the maklat (bomb shelter) is in case of an azaka (air attack). And who says I’m not learning Hebrew here?!

I’ve heard the siren only once and hope never to hear it again, hope those down south will be able to soon sleep through the night, hope their children — long potty-trained but too often tested — will wake up tomorrow with dry sheets.

There are talks of a ceasefire amid continued reports of rockets landing in Rishon. I hope midnight brings a truce yet I pray for a more lasting peace.

It’s the first time I’ve heard the siren but its echo I know well…each year on Yom HaZikaron we stand — as individuals and as a community — eerily still and silent for one minute whilst we remember the many soldiers who have fallen and the innocent civilians whom we have lost in senseless terrorist attacks.

And in this minute, earlier today for one heart-pounding minute, in every minute, I stand proudly as a Jew in Israel.

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