On Friday night, I was walking to shul with my kids when the air-raid siren went off. I quickly had to debate which was closer, my home or the shul, because there wasn’t much of a particularly safe place in between the two.
To digress for a second, on Friday, Hamas claimed they were going to hit the Knesset in Jerusalem with a rocket. Personally, I didn’t take that threat very seriously, mostly because they were just as likely to hit an Arab village or Al Aqsa, so why would they take that chance?
And out here, in Gush Etzion. Not likely at all. Right?
But still, before hockey practice in the afternoon, the coach made a point of telling all the kids where the closest bomb shelter was. You know… just in case.
Like every Shabbat, I had my security walkie-talkie with me. And when the sirens went off, it started shouting too about the incoming rocket.
This was real.
I decided we were going to try to run home. My wife was there with the newborn along with my mother, and they would need help too.
But little kids can only run so fast, and when it became clear we weren’t going to make it home in a reasonable time, I hid us under a semi-enclosed garage (the building the garage was attached to was unfortunately locked). I wasn’t going to keep us out in the open for much longer. It wasn’t safe.
We got there, as did a few other people, and we waited. And a minute later – “Boom”.
I’ve been through rocket attacks in Lebanon, and during the Gulf War too, so I knew what to expect. But I didn’t know how my kids would react.
My kids couldn’t stop laughing when they heard the explosion in the not far enough away distance!
They apparently practice running to the bomb shelter all the time in school, so they knew what to do, and were excited they could finally do it for real.
We waited another minute, and then rather stupidly, we ran the rest of the way home. Then there was a second, and perhaps fainter boom.
Turns out you are supposed to wait 10 minutes in your safe area, because they fire them in groups. Who knew.
I went back to shul. Alone this time.
Anyway, the parks were pretty empty on Shabbat afternoon, and we kept our kids inside for the rest of the day.
The kids have been making siren sounds all day long and building Lego rockets.
The following was posted on Facebook by Eli Birnbaum
Surreal story from Eli Birnbaum in Tekoa:
Erev Shabbat in Tekoa (like most places) is a contradiction of tension and relief. This time the arrival of Shabbat was accompanied by warning sirens for a missile attack. Surprise and unbelief “Missiles here in the Judean desert?” Before we can really grasp what was happening, there came the resounding boom of an explosion echoing in the hills reflecting the shock in our faces. The security van careens through the streets calling people to find shelter. Within minutes another siren warning. This time prayers are halted . “Quickly under the shul,” someone commands. Within the confusion we grab our children and grandchildren in our arms and climb down to the open area under the synagogue which affords more protection. We all move quickly in the darkening evening finding space on the floor . I hold one of my grandchildren talking to him softly . He thinks it is a great game. We begin to sing and wait for the next boom.
It was at that moment that my son Pinny’s cell phone rings. As a member of a search and rescue team it is not uncommon for him to get calls even on Shabbat. But this call was different “Shabbat Shalom” . It is a familiar voice with a very distinct accent. “ Pinny, its Muhammad, what do I do? What’s happening? I heard your sirens”. There is real panic in his voice.
At first this may not appear to be an abnormal situation, but Muhammad is an acquaintance/friend who happens to live in the Arab village of Tuqua which the army will only enter in large numbers. Pinny quietly explains that we were being rocketed from Gaza and the best thing he could do is to remain in doors and stay away from windows. Muhammad thanks Pinny profusely apologizes for calling on Shabbat “ Shabbat Shalom Pinny – B’Emet todah!”. So this Friday night , a “Palestinian Arab” called a “Jewish Settler” for help regarding a rocket attack from Gaza – Surreal!