The earth is a rich, dark brown, and clumpy, like the batter when I make sweet chocolate balls. White Queen Anne’s Lace and purple thistle weeds push up from the earth together with the partially dried green and tan empty field. The sky is full of clouds and instead of the flat, plowed wheat fields ending in the skyline of the Abasan Kabir with the turquoise mosque jutting out, I see a ridge of mountains still partially nestling in the clouds, like a blanket that doesn’t want to be thrown off yet, behind multistoried buildings.
Again, the scenery surrounding me has changed.
The rockets are still exploding in my kibbutz in the south, and we are still part of the 10,000 Gaza Envelope residents who live so close to the border with Gaza that remaining at home with small children is simply not responsible. I do not have small children, but I have three grandchildren under the age of 8 who live on Nirim, as well. That is one of the reasons why, this time, I chose to evacuate with the community as opposed to previous times: to help my daughter, who not only needs to deal with her family but is also responsible for the kibbutz cultural activities.
When a kibbutz evacuates together, the goal is to try and reconstruct the community atmosphere, as much as possible, while away from home under such stressful circumstances. This is the reason we try to keep people of all ages together: doing communal things, similar to what we would be doing at home under normal circumstances. Children can play with their friends from their nursery school group, adults can have coffee and a chat with others from their community, and we can do Kabbalat Shabat together. The scenery has changed but by being surrounded by friends, or even just familiar faces, you are granted a bit of the security of the known, of home, as you travel your journey of evacuation.
Since hotels are not only places of refuge but also actually businesses that need to earn their keep, we had to leave the wonderful, welcoming Ramada Hotel in Netanya. As it was the weekend, people had booked rooms for real vaca… (just got another warning on my phone of rockets on Nirim) …, where was I… oh yes, vacations.
One of the principles in preserving emotional resilience, despite the stress of evacuation, is keeping the community together as much as possible. Therefore, we requested that all of us be moved to the same place (in Netanya, we, from Nirim, were over 250 people). A place was found, able to take in anyone who wanted to come, in Nahariya. That brought us from one border of this tiny country to another. So we repacked our belongings, bid farewell to our hosts, and…”wagon ho” to the next destination, another two hours drive north.
We left Netanya around noon, and people arrived in dribs and drabs at our new temporary “home base.” We were divided up, given rooms, and notified that there would be a Kabbalat Shabbat for us all in the garden at 18:30, where we would be lovingly entertained by a band from Kibbutz Kabri, not far from here. Members of Kabri even baked challot and cakes for us, for Shabbat.
Not everyone in our original group of 250 joined us on the road to Nahariya. For some, it was too far. Others felt a need to be with friends or family elsewhere in the country. On the other hand. some Nirimnicks who had been elsewhere until now, joined the group. So the makeup of the group is fluid, and flexible, addressing people’s needs as much as possible, enabling togetherness for those of us who need the support – or literally have no other options. People can certainly take breaks when needed.
For a multitude of reasons, the final of which being that my son-in-law has a good friend in a kibbutz literally five minutes from Nahariya, my little tribe decided to not sleep over in the hotel in the end, but rather participate in the activities (which my daughter coordinated and I photographed) and to bed down in Kibbutz Evron. By the time we finally got here, got the sleeping arrangements settled, fed and bedded the littles, I was way too exhausted to add to this evacuation diary. Hence, I’m writing it Saturday morning.
Before going to bed, I had been reading messages about a possible ceasefire – even what is called a “humanitarian” ceasefire, which is for a set amount of time, to enable people on both sides to get out of their houses to safely stock up on food, get medicines they may need and to experience normal life in safety, before the explosions resumed. I had virtually decided that, if there IS a ceasefire, I would go home, despite knowing that the shooting could resume.
I need my home. I need my smells and surroundings. I need my privacy. I’m too old for this nonsense. Even if it means that I will have to sleep in the saferoom with the door and window closed. Even if it means that I will have to be super alert when doing the most normal tasks outside my house, away from my saferoom. Even if it means being separated from my family.
I know how to handle myself in Nirim under rocket fire. I know how to keep myself safe. What I am less secure about doing, is driving the roads under rocket fire, and with the barrage as we had earlier, I can’t see me getting back home today, either.