Thursday, July 10, 2014

Red Alert Jerusalem

Did you know there's an app for that?  Yes, there is a real app on the iphone called "Red Alert" that sounds an alarm on your iphone and warns you when a bomb is on its way and in what locale. From there, you have somewhere between 15 and 25 seconds to take cover, preferably in a bomb shelter. If not a bomb shelter, you are instructed to move anywhere indoors that you can. If you don''t have time to get indoors, take shelter beside a parked car. If you still don't have time for that, hit the ground and cover your head with your hands. After that, well, I suppose you can continue to pray.

  All day long, as Hamas, the Al Aksa Martyr's Brigade, and other Palestinian terror groups reigned over 100 bombs on Israeli civilian targets, the app kept ringing. Most of the alerts were for the cities in the South--Sderot, Ashdod, Asheklon, Moatza Ezorit, and others. The fact that bombs were not falling close to where I was staying in Jerusalem riddled me with guilt. After all, these are still the people of Israel, people I think of as nothing less than my extended family.  Am I so self centered that my first reaction is not "how terrible for the people of the South," but "thank God that my family and I are safe?" I also can't really begin to imagine what it must be like having to worry every single moment that a rocket may be on its way in about 15 seconds.

But around 6 PM, as we were sitting in our apartment, the alert suddenly read "Jerusalem." Now I had my family's moment of worry. We quickly put on shoes and headed for the bomb shelter in our building. Why didn't we hear the siren? The other people in the shelter told us that it was quite loud. Why didn't we hear it? It's nice to be staying in a quiet apartment, but sound proof? Can we pay less for an apartment that's not completely sound proof?

The all clear came about 2 minutes later. Four bombs actually made their way to the Jerusalem area, two of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome, while the other two landed in open fields just outide of the city. Debris from one of them fell onto the roofs of some houses in a religious community of Jerusalem. 
Heading down into the bomb shelter or "miklat" in our apartment building.

What to do now? Do we hunker down in the apartment for the next two days or do we try to "not let the terrorists win" by returning to normalcy as quickly as possible? And is this the time for making statements with my actions or making sure my children are safe? The guilt has taken a new form now.

Well, we decided to go out to dinner anyway. Restaurants have bomb shelters too, right, and at least there we could be sure we would hear the sirens. We expected to see nobody out on the streets, and while it wasn't as crowded as usual on a Thursday night on Ben Yehuda Street, there were definitely plenty of folks out and about sitting in the restaurants and cafes.

BBYO Regional Presidents Then
And Now
We met my long-time friend Brenda and her husband at our favorite place, Rimon Bistro. Brenda and I were the Regional Presidents of BBYO in the Bay Area back in the early 80's, and it's like we never stopped, both of us still working in the Jewish community on different sides of the world. Fortunately, there were no bombs in Jerusalem during dinner, though Red Alert reminded me that at least 14 more fell in the rest of the country during our leisurely meal.

But now, having the illusion of it "not being in our yard" shattered, every sound on the walk there made us just a little bit jumpy-- a truck running over a metal grate, a chair falling down, a siren from a police car with an extremely loud announcement from a loud speaker, which turned out to be just a police officer pulling someone over for speeding. The strangest sound of all, though, came from a car blasting a radio. The drum beat, in our state of mind, sounded like an explosion. It was just music, though.
Then again, it wasn't "just" music. After we decided it wasn't a bomb, we thought that maybe it was a rap song. But no, the car was blasting the song from the morning service. "V'ha-er eineinu b'toratecha, v'dabek libeinu b'mitzvotecha," enlighten our eyes with your Torah, and let our hearts cleave to your commandments."
And there was our sign. In this time of fear and uncertainty and red alerts, I pray O God, for the people of Israel, for the peace of Jerusalem, and that none of us of any religion or nation should live in fear. Instead, let us cleave to You, O God, and elighten our eyes to Your Torah, to peace, and to hope.
And now, a few pictures of our friends who are here weathering the storm along with us and beyond.
With our former Office Manager, Aliza Schechter, at a Cafe in Tel Aviv

With former Bat Mitzvah student and future entrepeneur Eva Sasson in Jerusalem

1 comment:

  1. Another welcome report, Rabbi Mark! Much more in depth than those I get from my kids. Marc is sending me cartoons and jokes! Guess that is one way to deal!

    Marianne Friedman