Today, I want to lead with the voices that matter — those with whom we partner and who benefit from our efforts in San Diego.
No ordinary morning on the Gaza border
By Noga Gulst, Resident of Kibbutz Mefalsim
As I washed my face this morning, I think I heard the red alarm go off. It was a bit far, and I wasn’t sure that I heard it well, but the sounds of explosions made me realize that my ears didn’t fail me.
I’m home alone, as my husband just drove our son to the train station in Sderot. Should I call him? Should I project my fears onto him and our son? But the bombing doesn’t stop. I counted 15-20 rockets. What is going on? Is the war starting again?
Then the self-convincing starts: so many explosions, it must be the “iron-dome” intercepting. They can't shoot so many rockets without an IDF response.
It has been almost four years since the last war with Gaza. Are we going to have another war this summer? Are we mentally prepared for that? I know (or at least I believe) that I can trust the IDF to defend us, but what about the mental health of all of us? We are still trying to overcome the summer of 2014.
And the thoughts continue with a bit of dark humor – at least they waited a week, allowing us to bury my mom last week in Nahal Oz, just 500 meters from the Gaza border, and finish the last day of the Shiv'a quietly. During the service last week, having around 200 people at the graveyard, I couldn't focus 100% on my mom, as I was worried the entire time that a burning kite would appear in the sky or that a rocket would fall nearby.
A few minutes later this morning, I’ve started to receive WhatsApp messages informing me of what happened and letting us know that we can go back to our routine. The school buses waited a few minutes before continuing their route to school, while I needed to go to work and act as everything is normal. Work as if we had a normal morning, continue with the meetings, the daily activities, and just go on with our lives.
Can anyone suggest how can I continue the day/week/life when the summer is getting closer and so is the fear of the next war? I guess that is the meaning of living under terror. It’s not necessarily the attacks themselves, but the fear of what will happen next.
Board Chair Reflections: No Ordinary Morning
I write in support of, and in no way to imply an understanding of the life of Noga Gulst and the thousands of others who live in the direct line of fire in southern Israel.
I am incapable of conveying the genuineness of their experiences. Simply, I have no idea. No idea of the angst, horror, and fear of living in a country that is yours, but one where your neighbors’ leaders’ sworn duty is to kill you and your children. But words are not their weapons. They fire missiles, send incendiary kites and balloons, and raise their children to believe that becoming a martyr is more honorable than pursuing peace and life.
Despite Noga’s writing that these mornings are not ordinary, these indefensible incidents now seem to be normalized to the rest of the world, numbing our senses of outrage, yet a terrifying reality to our fellow Jews. Federation’s partner region, Sha’ar HaNegev, is literally on the front lines. Noga and her family await the siren, have 15 seconds to take cover, and pray. Can you imagine? I can’t.
While our Federation’s partnership helped fund the construction of a bomb-proof high school
(…wait…pause…take in the pure irrationality of that statement), it is not enough. It will never be enough. Yet, these actions are necessary to protect our fellow Jews, and we are proud to do whatever we can.
Fortunately, Noga is uninjured. I hope she stays that way. I hope they all stay that way, and I feel privileged that our Federation dollars, collaboration, and friendship may help those who bravely live in Sha’ar HaNegev. Many Israelis have been murdered by senseless terror (as if they all aren’t senseless). One horrific incident, for some reason, ignited a nerve. Please see Make it Stop - Please from June 2016.
Noga and the memory of Hallel Yaffa Ariel (essay referenced above) serve as inspirations for my involvement and support of Federation and many other organizations that fight on behalf of our fellow Jews in Israel. Regardless of politics, these brave, committed Jews deserve our gratitude and admiration.
I have no idea what it feels like to hear a siren to warn me of an incoming missile. I cannot imagine the overwhelming panic of not knowing where my children are and wondering if they are safe. I can, though, continue to work to do what I can to help them. I am sure Noga wants peace with her Palestinian neighbors on the other side of the fence. I want that for her. I want it for them. May I live to see the day when every morning on the Gaza border is like my morning in San Diego.