Judy Halper
Left is not a dirty word

Some random thoughts while waiting for rockets

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It’s so quiet after last night’s planes flying overhead, back and forth. The weather is rare, a clean breeze blowing lingering soot from the evening’s fires off into the distance. My heart aches at the sight of a bee entering a dark purple sweet-pea flower.

While the children played at ancient war – the “fun” part with homemade bows and arrows – and the adults celebrated a one-day break in our ancestors’ failed zealot enterprise, our thoughts were turning to Shavuot. The upcoming holiday of cheesecake and spring harvests.

On the corner, Palestinian builders speak Arabic to one another as they tear down a patio roof on the corner house opposite ours. Once the war is over, they’ll come back to build a reinforced concrete, rocket-proof room in its place.

Egrets, migrating cranes, parrots, jays and mynas. The late rains – the watery ones – have provided them with bountiful puddles, fallen fruit and fat insects. They shout for joy. It’s the night birds – owls and such – who will rush to protect their nests when the ground shakes.

Speaking of spring harvests, half the wheat has been picked for cow silage, the other half left to turn golden – nearly amber – in the fields. After the unseasonal spring rains, there’ll be bread. But who will be able to afford that bread this summer?

That fire-ant bite has stopped burning, started itching. It’ll itch for a week. Like migrating ospreys, fire ants know no borders.

Where is it written that it is permitted to gang up on the Druze guard at your holy site, kicking the breath out of him?

The men prayed on the mountaintop. Like the white, sin-free white egrets, this war means nothing to them. Since when do Jews pray at the graves of dead rabbis, while forgetting the injunctions to do good in this world? Where is it written that it is permitted to gang up on the Druze guard at your holy site, kicking the breath out of him?

The rapid rain of rockets shall rinse them clean. Click your heels and say it fast three times.

I’ll be holding my dog with both hands, hunched next my husband in the hallway, head down – just the way they taught us in elementary school during the Cold War. We’ve been joking for over a year about whether the approval will be granted for building our reinforced concrete, rocket-proof addition before the next war starts. It’s no longer a joke.

The dog knocked over a small metal table on the wooden deck. My husband jumped, listened for the siren. There are bangs and clangs all day long from the trucks driving out of the logistics center, renovations and building, the cow-feeders Suddenly, they are not quite background noise.

Maybe the Gazans do not need to actually start this war. They could just keep us waiting, always within a second or two of shelter. Checking the roadside for places to lie if there’s a siren while we’re driving. Ducking our heads or looking up for the Iron Dome anti-rocket strikes. Watching the news compulsively until we’ve no hair left to pull. Calling our dear ones daily, or hourly, to make sure they’re ok.

I’ve got plans for Shavuot. I hope the war is finished by then.

About the Author
Judy Halper is a member of a kibbutz in the center of the country. She has worked as a dairywoman, plumber and veggie cook, and as a science writer. Today she volunteers in Na'am Arab Women in the Center and works part time for Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom.
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