A little rambling about a scary evening…
So far, my experience in Israel has been overwhelmingly positive and transformative. I have learned so much about Israel, myself and the Ethiopian jewish community. One thing I don’t think I really understood was the true effect of living in a country surrounded by conflict.
I see all of the soldiers walking on the streets. I go through searches before entering bus stations. And I know where I am- a country that is entrentched in conflict. But last night just before midnight I was sitting on the balcony of my house hanging out with my roommates, laughing and recounting funny stories when a siren started playing outside. We couldn’t figure out what it was. Then one of our Israeli friends stood up quickly but calmly and instructed us that “there are missles and we need to go to the shelter”. He was asking us for a radio, phones and he told us we need to find out of it’s coming from North or South. North is Lebanon where there is chance for a real war, South would “just be missles from Gaza”. He was able to get in touch with a friend who told him that it was from Gaza and it should be the last one. Thank g-d it was and no one was hurt.
This experience was scary, to say the least, but it is a reality that everyone who lives in this very special country lives with. Since I’ve gotten here, I have been constantly truck by the lack of personal space here. I don’t mean that in a bad way either! Just that everyone welcomes you as family, most people are more blunt than I ever experience in the States and there is an idea that we are all a family- and they act like it. Gilad Shalit’s release is the ultimate expression of that feeling. Anyway, I think I am starting to see why that is a little bit more. In my very brief experience in a very scary situation, the instinct to protect one another was innate and the closeness that I feel to all of the people who were there with me and Israel as a whole is incredible.