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October 9, 2015 / 26 Tishri, 5776
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Sirens and Erie Thoughts in Israel

I listened to what was supposed to symbolize a massive missile attack - sirens wailing all over Israel.

Ever have a thought or concept that instantly summarizes itself in your brain in one word? That just happened to me moments ago, and the thought was – eerie. Yesterday, people all over Israel practiced what it would be like if we were suddenly hit with a massive missile barrage.

A couple of times, an air raid siren sounded. I was at a conference at a hotel – the Jerusalem Ramada Renaissance Hotel at a conference…I’ve helped organize two conferences there over the last two years and, to be honest, I’m very upset because when we tried to organize a third one – they hit us with a 25% increase in cost. That bothered me today as I went there for another conference and so I found myself being overly critical about the long lines for the bathroom and the food. Overall, a really nice hotel – not nice to hit us with such a large increase in one year (so, if you have recommendations for other hotels, please add them in a comment below).

In the morning, they announced the siren exercise, which would clearly disrupt the conference, and then announced, “the Ramada doesn’t do drills” – so if there was a siren – it wasn’t heard and no one did anything. I left the conference a bit early with a headache and came home and I’ve been on the phone for a good portion of that time.

The last call was with a family friend (and our insurance broker) who lives about an hour away – closer to Tel Aviv. As we were talking – I heard the siren – there was a split second of hesitation but immediately, I remembered the exercise and explained to our friend that this is what was happening. Seconds later, he said, “yes, by me too.”

And so I listened to what was supposed to symbolize a massive missile attack – sirens wailing all over Israel. I didn’t go to my bomb shelter, nor did our friend. But there was this eerie feeling hearing the echo of the siren coming through the phone, hearing it here in my neighborhood.

It wasn’t long ago that the siren sounded here and it was real. I saw two children in the distance hesitate – and then continue on their way to home.

We were not attacked by Iranian missiles; nor by Syria. Lebanon’s Hezbollah didn’t unleash some of their 40,000+ arsenal of rockets and Gaza didn’t fire either. That’s a lot of places from which to expect attacks for such a small country.

Meanwhile, as Syria crumbles and Iran and the Hizballah seem to step up their interference… Israelis who have not yet updated their gas masks are rushing to do so. We have ours in the living room under the small table…

Eerie – yes, that’s the word. Eerie.

From yesterday morning:

This is kind of a silly video because no one reacts…than again – what were they expected to do? It was not an enforced event, it wasn’t real and certainly, unlike Memorial Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day, traffic was not expected to stop. In any event, I’m posting it because what it does is give you the sound and length of the experience.

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About the Author: Visit Paula Stern's blog, A Soldier's Mother.

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