– I’ve learned that seeing the initial photographs of soldiers we’ve lost, and later pictures of their funerals, feels like being disemboweled without an anesthetic.

– I’ve learned to resist the urge to throw something heavy at the television screen when BBC and CNN news anchors deliver their venomous, biased reports.

– I’ve learned that it takes only the slightest amount of fanning to turn the ever-present spark of anti-Semitism into a raging fire.

– I’ve learned that, when you reach the ballot box, it’s more important to vote for the candidate you’d want leading the country in war time, than times of peace.

– I’ve learned that friends with sons in Gaza inexplicably manage to work, eat, shop, cook, and answer well meaning questions, all the while holding their breath.

– I’ve learned to only ever leave the house wearing waterproof mascara.

– I’ve learned the sheer terror that comes with being caught outdoors the very first time I ever heard a siren, and running home because I didn’t yet know I should be hitting the ground instead, all the while expecting to see rocket fire light up the night sky.

– I’ve learned that 30 000 people will brave the punishing, July heat to attend the funeral of a lone soldier they’d never met, and that so many thousands of people will visit recuperating lone soldiers in hospital, that an announcement will be made on the news, asking well-wishers to allow our heroes to rest.

– I’ve learned that 800 metres from your home isn’t very far at all, when rocket debris is falling on your neighborhood fields.

– I’ve learned to choose the supermarket I frequent based entirely new criteria. Do I go to my usual, discounted supermarket and, if the siren sounds, risk having to find shelter in a deserted industrial zone at night? Or do I go to the local supermarket, which is closer, even though there are no walls to take shelter against en-route?

– I’ve learned that even a broken heart can be further fractured. “Hadar was to be married on the 18th September,” a close friend of the Goldins told me sadly. “His mother had already bought him a watch as a gift. She wanted to buy his shirt for the wedding too, but his father told her to rather wait till he returned from the war.” Hearing this, I felt my splintered heart shatter even more, as I am sure yours just did too.

– I’ve learned that catering companies will drive to the border and set up voluntary, field kitchens, that plumbers will arrive with mobile water tank showers, hairdressers will give free hair cuts, and masseurs will willingly massage aching limbs. It’s already been announced that, on their return home, soldiers will enjoy free entry to movies and sports stadiums for a month, and no doubt many similar offers will follow. Because that’s just how it is here.

– I’ve learned to anticipate the exact length of the siren…followed by the whoosh of the Iron Dome deploying intercepting rockets…then the deceptive silence…and finally the thunderous booms. My dog hasn’t yet grown used to this sequence, however, and jumps up and barks angrily as the windows shake, and the echoes of the explosion subside.

– I’ve learned to laugh at the irony of a demonstration by left wing activists, protesting against Israel’s involvement in Gaza, being broken up early due to rocket fire aimed at Tel Aviv.

– I’ve learned that, when the siren sounds, strangers will use their bodies to shelter babies and young children, and strapping, young men will lift old ladies into their arms, and carry them gently them into the shelter.

– I’ve learned that the term ‘the three boys’ was once shorthand for our collective grief, but now our precious sons will be forever remembered for saving us, not only from Hamas’s deadly tunnels, but also from ourselves. Never before has our diverse society been so united.

– Most of all, I’ve learned of my untapped reservoirs of love and pride for this miraculous country, and my limitless gratitude for its exemplary army.

Am Israel Chai!