Helaine Ring


Imagine it is a Shabbat morning, early. You are surrounded by the sounds of birds chirping, of nature reawakening. Imagine waking up in your bed, in your house where you feel safe and protected and at ease.

Suddenly, all the pastoral quiet of this beautiful autumn morning disappears, within an instant, replaced by the ear shattering, cavity jarring heart stopping wails of air raid sirens, one and a second and a third and a fourth…. until you can no longer count how many sirens there were.

You run to your security room, maybe in your pajamas, maybe in your underwear. You close the door, shutter the window, and feel your heart rate slow down a bit as you trust in the security of your secure room. It was built, after all, for your protection.

Then other, scary sounds fill your environment. Gun shots, screams, grenades, yelling. Remember, this is your home. You feel protected, and safe, and relaxed there. You know all your neighbors. You have tended your garden, decorated your exterior and interior walls, surrounded yourself with photographs, statues, artwork and knickknacks, things that make you feel comfortable, happy and give your house that feeling of home.

And then your home is no longer a home. It no longer brings feelings of joy, safety, or familiarity. The smells are off; the acrid smell of smoke fills your nostrils. The sounds are wrong, there is no laughter, there is a lot of crying. The sights are wrong, instead of familiar, friendly faces you see strange and scary and angry people who are there to hurt, maim, rape, torture, and kill you.

You feel totally off balance. You have entire systems based within systems , all created and designed for your protection. But none of them work. You have structures set up within the society that you live in that you can depend on in your hour of need, firemen, ambulance drivers, police officers, military personnel. But now you cannot count on any of them, no one is coming to help. You have never felt so alone, so vulnerable, so isolated.

Imagine you try to phone your family, your loved ones. Do they calm you down or does their tension, their tone, their questions only serve to fuel your anxiety? What is happening with your neighbors? Your friends? Suddenly your front door becomes a border to a foreign county, one you do not want to visit. And then your world closes even more, you hang on to the door of your security room , maybe for hours on end, and it becomes the border, the line that divides between life and……well, you can’t possibly imagine that…

Imagine what emotions run through your head, your heart. Fear? Anger? Rage? Terror? All mixed together? Maybe mixed with hunger? Thirst? A need to pee? Can you imagine hour after hour in a closed, crowded, airless dark room? Can you imagine having to comfort your children in that situation? Can you?

Imagine the day after…. are you alive? Injured? Intact? Have you been kidnapped and dragged to a dark, damp, deep tunnel. Are you alone? Are others with you?

Imagine you wake up in the hospital, in pain, afraid, glad to be alive, worried to hear the fate of the others.

Or imagine that the next day you are grateful to discover that all those whom you love and hold dear, or at least the majority of them, are alive and well, but your home is no longer, it is burned to the ground, destroyed by RPGs or deemed to be in an area too dangerous for you to live in, at least for now.

And imagine, you now live in a hotel, in a single room, your entire family, maybe with just the clothes on your back, maybe with used clothes that people donated, you suddenly have become the recipient of charity. You are some sort of homeless, with no idea when you will be able to return to the dwelling you left or if that dwelling will ever feel like home again.

And imagine, in your wildest dreams are you able to imagine that just a few days after the most awful massacre, a true Holocaust that took place without warning, without a chance for escape, a nightmare of rape and torture and unimaginable atrocity, just a few days later the world starts to blame you, to use words like “allegedly” and “claimed” and other words that color the truth of your struggle to survive with the taint of injustice and cruelty and falsehood.

And imagine how it feels when people all around the world take advantage of this opportunity to express their undisguised hatred for you, for your religion and your people!

And suddenly, you can’t imagine how the world can ignore your anguish, your struggle, your fear, your loss and start to judge and weigh and balance the actions of your just and ethical and moral defense forces against the battle waged by terrorists who care as little for their own people as they do for you.

Could anyone imagine an absurdity like that?

About the Author
Helaine has been living in Israel since 1981. She is a wife, mother and grandmother. She is looking forward to retirement shortly. She is a speech pathologist, directing an early childhood development center in Kiryat Melachi. Recenly she became a certified transforming hypnotherapist. She has always enjoyed creative writing.
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