Leiah Jaffe

99 Days

I awoke yesterday morning, 99 days after October 7 at 6:30 a.m. to the sound of low thundering.  It was a Shabbat morning, just like October 7.  Because it was Shabbat, there were no normal city sounds, no cars, no kids waking up, no street cleaners, and therefore any noise can break the quiet.  A low rumble.  My thinking brain said, “That is us bombing Gaza.”  My emotional brain said, “Maybe that’s them sending rockets to us.”  The thinking brain can be so sure of itself; the emotional brain spreads out the rainbow of possibilities.  The emotional brain remembers what it was like on October 7 at 6:30 a.m., when the low rumble turned into sirens.  Many sirens.  

No siren yet.

I got up, thought of my grandchildren sleeping soundly in the next room and prepared to help them run to the shelter if need be – if indeed, my emotional brain was right.  I didn’t wake those beautiful sleeping children.  Probably my thinking brain is correct.  We haven’t had sirens in Be’er Sheva for a month.  But whatever I could do to prepare without disrupting others, was a worthwhile investment in case my emotional brain was right.  I went to the bathroom, put on my shoes and went downstairs.  I unlocked the front door for quick exit.  

No siren yet.

I make my coffee and play solitaire – my normal Saturday morning routine.  I continued hearing the low rumble.  Sometimes, it was louder than other times, rattling the windows of my house.  Gaza City is 23 miles away.  It’s us bombing them, it’s us bombing them, it’s us bombing them – my thinking brain trying to convince my emotional brain.  You need to be ready to run and scoop us those kids – my emotional brain reminding my thinking brain to not fall into complacency. 

No siren yet.

My grandchildren woke up, ate sugary cereal (only at Savta’s house), and after their parents woke up, we got ready to walk to synagogue.  I planned our route, slightly different from the route we normally take because it takes us closer to a shelter.  I didn’t tell them that why we’re going this way, no need to worry anyone else needlessly.  The booms continued from Gaza.  My children didn’t notice it at first until I point it out.  Then there’s no not hearing it.  Boom, boom, boom.  It’s now 9:30am.  

No siren yet.

We arrived at synagogue, where I know there is a bomb shelter.  I have delivered everyone safe.  The kids will play outside, like regular kids, and I will know that they are near and can be rounded up in 60 seconds and brought inside if there’s a siren.  We pray.  We pray for the hostages.  We pray for the injured.  We pray for the soldiers.  We pray for ourselves.  We pray for peace.  Synagogue is over.  It’s 10:30am.

No siren yet.

We go outside to socialize and see people from the community and catch up on each other’s lives.  I notice that there are no more booms.

There are no more booms.

There was no siren.

99 days.

About the Author
Leiah Jaffe is a mom, tour guide and story teller who has lived in Israel for almost 30 years. After growing up in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Pennsylvania, she converted to Judaism, married and moved to Israel with her young family to the West Bank. Today, she is fulfilling Ben Gurion's dream and calls Be'er Sheva home.
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