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When We Hear a Siren

When we hear a siren in Israel, we have 90 seconds to seek shelter or a protected space. Even after six weeks of war and sirens (I lost track of how many alerts we had in Tel Aviv), one never gets used to the blare of the sirens and the boom that follows as the rocket/missile is intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system. We are then supposed to wait at least 10 minutes due to rocket fragments that can fall on the ground and have already caused many serious injuries to people.

Last evening, at precisely 6pm, the siren went off. My daughter, always with her baby in her arms (we had just finished feeding her) and I ran down the four flights to our shelter, and for some strange reason found that it was locked. All the neighbors in our building were thus locked out of our own protected space, so we ran back up to the first-floor stairwell.

My husband was outside on the street going to pick up his take away dinner and ran into his favorite coffee shop for cover, where he joined the people there in their shelter.

Last week, I was biking to a friend from my bicycle store near the Azrieli Towers when I heard the siren. I immediately got off my bike and ran to the back of the Ministry of Defense building across from the Towers. I looked up and saw the missile in the sky and it looked as though it was aimed right at me. I have never seen anything like that in my life. It turned out that a rocket fragment injured a nurse leaving Ichilov Hospital a few blocks from where I was. That was really scary!

A few weeks ago, I was at the dentist, on the 14th floor of a building not too far from home. The shelter is in the hallway of the building. I was fascinated to be with all the dental employees whose main languages were Russian and Arabic. It was such a cool mosaic of our country and everyone seemed calm (at least on the surface).

Most of the time, we hear the sirens in the evenings when we are at home. We have a set routine. We each have a pair of shoes at the door; we run down the four flights; we leave the elevator available for our 92-year-old Partisan neighbor Shula, who is usually accompanied by her son, Shaul. The majority of our neighbors do not leave their apartment, but their live-in caretakers from the Philippines, Thailand and India are part of our "shelter gang". In addition, we leave the front door of our building open at night in case a passerby needs protection. Since we are on a main boulevard (David Hamelech), we have actually had a few surprise "neighborhood drop-ins."

One of the most dangerous places to be caught during an air raid alarm is on a highway. One Friday afternoon, I was talking on the phone in my car to my sister, and I noticed people pulling over to the side of the road. It took about 10 seconds to sink in that I better get off the phone and do the same. I slowly drove to the side of the Ayalon Highway, parked the car and ran to take cover not far away. We were totally exposed and there was not much I could do but pray.

Sending hope for freeing the hostages in Gaza!

Written in November, 2023 



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Tuesday, 16 April 2024

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