Whenever I trip I always yell out in a loud awkward scream. I don’t know why I want to bring more attention to my follies, but it has become second nature to me and others that choose to still be my friend.
But when I tripped while walking to the Tachana Rishona with my friend that was here from the south, this past Friday, she too yelled out a scream. Her scream was not awkward, more like that of actual fear. She can’t hear loud noises without jumping. Because she is constantly hearing loud noises. Sounds of rockets being fired at her Kibbutz, where she is raising her five children and a huge dog. Explosions of air strikes in Gaza just three kilometers from their home. A light show of big bangs that shakes the house as the ground combat crosses the border with tanks, artillery, and whatever crazy machines make all that cacophony of noise.
So she jumps when I trip. And she holds her breath until I apologize for being dumb. I don’t want to scream when I trip if she is going to be frightened. I don’t want her to stay up all night worrying. And wake up to run for shelter as the sirens go off. I don’t want her boys to be afraid to go outside. I don’t want children to grow up like this at all.
This weekend my community in Armon Hanatziv hosted her and her children as a part of an effort to bring families from the south to Jerusalem for a “quiet” Shabbat. Her family, along with several others joined our families for Shabbat dinners at our homes, stayed with us or in some cases in their own apartment that other families graciously allowed them to stay in while away for the weekend, and most importantly their children got to play outside.
We had so much food that had been donated. Whether by local shops in the city center that just handed over food when we told them what we were doing, or piled up bags of fruits and vegetables in the shuk to hand over to a lone soldier that helped us with our cause. The already donated food, could truly feed an army, and that is exactly what the leftovers will do, since my friend will now take the chicken, potatoes, coffee cake, roasted veggies and whatever else fits in large tins, down south to our brave soldiers protecting us.
The weekend went by too quickly. And our quiet ended with a musical havdallah chanting words of peace and joy for the future week. But the musical sounds turned back to that noise that my friend so desperately tries to drown out, when she turned on her phone to count the number of rockets, read about the soldiers who have been injured or died (her oldest son was called back to the army just months after being released after his mandatory duty), and speaking to those back on her Kibbutz warning her of the increased booms throughout the weekend.
And just like she packed her car and piled her boys into the back seat. I wanted to give her coffee for the ride home but the milk went bad. I wanted her to stay so she wouldn’t have to hear the noise. I wanted the boys to jump out of the car and not worry about the closest shelter, but throw their frisbee around and joke about Kassam Rocket farts (this is what young boys do, when I encourage them with my childish sense of humor).
What was so amazing about this weekend? That we can all come together and do our part. From all walks of life, from all over the country and from all denominations of Judaism, we came together to give each other what we need: each other—and good food.
The weekend may be over, but that spirit of giving, of being together, and for some of us emotional eating, should not go away. I may not be on the battlefield but I can do my part to protect my people. Let’s continue to be our foundation of strength in this time of war. I have heard of dozens of stories of giving, from stores emptying their toys off shelves, to people ordering pizzas for soldiers from shops in the south, and weekends like ours that let children play in the park, like children should play in the park.
My friend arrived home safely. She made sure her boys were in the house and then went back outside to fill up gas and watch the battle rage on. I could hear the booms in the background as she called me to tell me she made it home. Nobody tripped, but I wanted to scream.
For all the people down south, please know we are with you. And you can be with us if you need to. Let’s all do our part and come together. Is it cheesy to say, let’s be each other’s iron dome? Well, I just said it, so now I have to own it.
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