Leora Jaffe Steinman

109 Days of October 7

Do you know what it’s like to wake your American parents up at 6:30am to tell them there is an air raid siren?

Do you know what it’s like, at midnight, to run up the stairs screaming, “I have our daughter” as a way to wake your husband and tell him to grab our son and bring him to the bomb shelter in our apartment? Because maybe, somehow, he managed to sleep through the blaring siren outside. 

Do you know what it’s like? It is not normal. 

It took my dad what felt like a few extra minutes (I’m sure it was just seconds) to get to the bomb shelter that morning. Do you know why? Because his gut instinct was to get his shoes and car keys. Instead of fight or flight he was thinking about the next steps. His gut said, “If there is a siren we will go to the shelter and then jump in the car and drive somewhere safer.” 

Safer you say? On the morning of October 7, 2023 there was nowhere safer. In fact we did not know it at the time but getting in the car would have been the least  safe thing to do. 

Do you know why? Because terrorists had broken through a fence and invaded our homes.

We ran into the safe room where my son was sleeping and he immediately started screaming because I closed the door and it was pitch black. Without thinking I turned on the light. On Chag, a time when I would never use electricity. Little did I know that later that day we would all be on our phones reading the news and texting friends and family that we are safe. 

Today, on the 109th day of October 7, 2023, we are still feeling those same feelings. Maybe the fear has lessened. Maybe the unity has strengthened. Maybe, like me, we have buried all of our feelings so deep down that we worry when they are going to spill out. 

Just last week I bought one of the dog tag necklace that says, “הלב שלנו שבוי בעזה [our heart is captive in Gaza]. Bring them home.” I have been hesitant to buy one of these necklaces. Why? Because I do not know how to answer my son when he asks what I’m wearing. My son. My four year old, innocent, Sabra son. But over the past 109 days I have been thinking that I do not know what to do for our hostages so maybe wearing a necklace, reminding me and those around me of the situation, will do something. 

Let me explain what I mean when I say “I don’t know what to do.” For three months I have been doing Hafrashat Challah, baking and buying snacks for soldiers, sending Wolt giftcards or making dinner for my friends whose husbands are in miluim, and praying. But I feel like I do not even have the words to ask Hashem to bring our hostages home. Nothing feels strong enough. I heard someone say recently that the Hebrew language does not have the words to describe the atrocities of October 7. Maybe the Hebrew language does not have the words to scream to Hashem, “WHAT IS HAPPENING? WHERE ARE THEY?!”

So for now I write. I write because these thoughts and emotions have been building up inside for the past 109 days. I write because I don’t know what else to do. I write because maybe someone else can relate to what I’m saying and maybe they have an idea of what we need to be doing. 

May the unity of the Jewish people that we have experienced over the last 109 days never stop. May our hostages be released. May our soldiers come home. אמן

עם ישראל חי! 

About the Author
Leora made Aliyah as a young adult in 2013. She has seven years of experience working in nonprofit resource development. Since she writes for a living, sometimes she finds it easiest to express her thoughts and emotions through writing too.
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