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Sherri Mandell
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Waiting for a missile from Iran

An app on my phone tells me that all of Israel is in danger. So I call my children: Should I worry?
Iranians attend the funeral procession for seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members killed in a strike in Syria, which Iran blamed on Israel, in Tehran on April 5, 2024. (Atta Kenare/AFP)
Iranians attend the funeral procession for seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members killed in a strike in Syria, which Iran blamed on Israel, in Tehran on April 5, 2024. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

I open an app that tells me that the whole country is in danger on Shabbat. Soldiers have been called back from the reserves. All fighter pilots are on duty. GPS is being scrambled to confuse the enemy.

The app continues: On Shabbat, keep your phones on. Stock your safe room. Make sure you have plenty of water and toilet paper.

Even if the government denies it, we’re on high alert.

So I, like others, worry that on Shabbat, Iran will bombard Israel with missiles. Before Shabbat, I call my children who are much more Israeli than I am to ask for their take on things: Should I worry?

My oldest son says that a bomb is really not a bad way to die if it comes to that. You don’t even know what hit you. You die before your brain processes the bad news. Of course, we love gallows humor because we’ve been dealing with death for a very long time, since he was 11 and his brother Koby was murdered by terrorists at the age of 13.

“You’re not important enough for them to aim at,” my younger son says when I call him. “You have to be near Tel Aviv.”

“Why?”

“Well, where would you try to hit if you were Iran?”

Daniel is in Tel Aviv, as well as another million people, so this answer does not appease me.

I ask my daughter. “They just like to threaten us. Don’t worry, Ima.”

I ask an Israeli friend. “You don’t have to worry. We’re stronger than they are.”

I think of going to the gym to work out so I can relax, but it’s the last Friday of Ramadan, when the Palestinians are supposed to be angry. In Iran, thousands of people march against Israel and America.

Shabbat passes.

Saturday night, I make a new prediction: Iran will strike on the eve of Passover.

Like the Palestinians did on Simchat Torah.

When we’re celebrating a holiday, otherwise engaged.

I wake up in the morning thinking about Iran.

And I know what I have to do.

I delete the app that is the worrier-make-everything-as-bad-as-it-can-be app.

I talk to my friend Shira about how she’s dealing with the Iranian threat.

She tells me that she deleted the app too, and she’s much calmer now.

“Besides,” she says: “If I have to die, I’d rather it be in Israel.”

About the Author
Sherri Mandell is co-director of the Koby Mandell Foundation which runs programs for bereaved families in Israel. She is the author of the book "The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration." Her book, "The Blessing of a Broken Heart," won a National Jewish Book Award in 2004. She can be reached at sherri@kobymandell.org
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