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Sunday, November 18, 2012

When 10 minutes feels like 10 years

 [A guest-post by Zahava]

There is really nothing that adequately prepares you for the sound. You learn about it. Your kids have drills in school. Your community tests its siren and emergency broadcast system intermittently through out the year.

You know what to do. You know how much time you have to do it.

But.

Until it actually happens – until you are forced to put the practice into action – you really don’t know.

You anticipate that the siren will be terrible. But what you are really unprepared for is the fact that the siren is not the most terrible aspect of the experience.

As a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend, there were a thousand things that flashed through my frenzied thoughts as my brain registered and processed that our community’s air raid sirens were in fact actually shrilling their warning to take cover. Immediately.

90 seconds.

We in Gush Etzion are incredibly lucky. We have a full 90 seconds to get to safety. We have 6 times the amount of time as our compatriots in the south.

The sound. 

I think it only took about 10 seconds to absorb it. Good thing I live in Gush Etzion. 5 seconds would not have been adequate time to: 1) finish drying off after my shower, 2) race up the stairs while simultaneously stabbing my limbs into garments, and 3) rattle off the names of my husband, kids (who were home) and Shabbat guest, while also screaming 4) “get into the mamad (re-inforced room), this is probably not a drill.”

Somehow, the five of us all made it before the siren ceased its wail.

Head check.

Again.

Wait.

Boom. Boom.

Quiet. Muffled.

A bit of pressure accompanies the sound.

Sort of reminiscent of a sonic boom.

Except so much more sinister than the sound of an airplane breaking the sound barrier.

Designed to terrorize. Designed to kill.

We waited the required time – 10 minutes according to home front command – before exiting the mamad, wondering the entire time. Worrying the entire time.

It was 10 minutes. But it felt like 10 years.

We emerge grateful that we are all accounted for and unharmed. We hope that everyone in our area can say the same.

In shul, the boys hear from the men who serve on the community’s security squad that the rockets landed in an open area causing little damage and no injuries.

We finish our entry into Shabbat profoundly grateful that we and those we love and those we live among have been spared harm.

We worry.

We worry about our compatriots. We worry about our soldiers. We worry about the Gazan civilians. We worry about the worrying of overseas family and friends.

Shabbat remains quiet, though we are all edgier than normal. The howl of the traffic from 60 plays tricks on our ears and on our minds.

Was that the start of the siren?

No. For us, mercifully, it was not.

Each moment that carries us further from those 10 minutes. Those 10 minutes which felt like 10 years.

It is Sunday. I, like every news-junkie Israeli, move between productive work and the news sites. Checking. Praying. Listening. Worrying.

And it occurs to me.

If that one time experience of 10 minutes felt like 10 years, what does 3 rockets a day feel like? 30 years?

What does 12 years of rockets feel like?

My heart is broken for the one million residents of southern Israel for whom these exaggerated moments have already stretched on for eternity.

It is enough. Enough is enough.

Kol Yisrael arevi’im zeh la zeh – loosely translated, this means all Israel is responsible for one another.

The time has come to put aside political, philosophical and theological differences. Our citizens may not be subjected to rocket fire.

Ever.

You want to talk about all the ways that Israel can improve her international standing, her civil policies, her democratic process? Great. Me too. There is, admittedly, much work to be done.

But.

Not now.

At the moment, our only responsible action is to defend our citizens.

And know that we do this while taking extraordinary measures to simultaneously protect the innocent lives of non-militant Gazans.

It turns out the old axiom is true: time flies when you’re having fun.

Time should fly.

Missiles should not.

Posted by David Bogner on November 18, 2012 | Permalink

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Zahava, I hope that you don't mind that I am sharing this?

Posted by: jaime | Nov 18, 2012 3:58:17 PM

@Jaime: please feel free to share!

Posted by: zahava | Nov 18, 2012 4:18:07 PM

tremendous post. I am linking to it.....

Posted by: rickismom | Nov 18, 2012 11:09:31 PM

Hi there, I came here through Ricki's mom's blog and linked to this post on my blog in Canada. You are all in our prayers. God be with you and keep you safe.

Posted by: Belinda | Nov 20, 2012 3:02:42 AM

4 days later and I still can't put together something coherent and eloquent for my friends and family in the States. Will definitely be linking to this. Thanks, Zahava.

Posted by: SaraK | Nov 20, 2012 10:15:18 AM

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