Open Zion

11.19.12

Bombs Over Beer-Sheva

Just as I sat down to write this, another siren went off in Beer-Sheva. It is the third one since I arrived back in the city this morning on what used to be my usual bus route—the 470 from Jerusalem to Beer-Sheva. I never thought I’d actually take that bus again, as we moved to Beer-Sheva four months ago

Before we moved, my wife and I did discuss—another siren just interrupted my typing and train of thought—the possibility of rockets. We had lived through the bus bombings of the mid-'90s and the early 2000s in Jerusalem, but lately, especially after our kids were born, Jerusalem had become very safe.

Then we thought a few rockets a year would be unpleasant but manageable—we have a bona fide bomb shelter off of our kitchen. Little did we know that a scant four months after settling in the desert, Beer-Sheva would become a frontline city and bear the brunt of the first night of the barrages from Gaza and many subsequent rockets thereafter.

As it happens, none of us were actually in Beer-Sheva last Wednesday and we all remained in Jerusalem until this morning. The dilemma is one that we face every night. I returned to work this morning, but my wife and little kids have stayed in Jerusalem for the time being. Each night we assess the situation and read the military forecasts, which have replaced my habitual perusal of the weather forecasts. —Another siren.

Here are the types of questions that go into that assessment:

1) Do we think there will likely be more sirens and rockets tomorrow? So far, the answer every day has been: yes.

2) Is it better for the kids to be at home rather than their grandparents? Not if they can’t go outside and not if I’m at work and my wife has to take three little kids to the bomb shelter by herself several times a day. They’ve only heard a handful of sirens so far. If they’d come down with me this morning, that number would have doubled by now and the day is not nearly done.

3) But this is our home, where our community is and where we’ve pinned our hopes, shouldn’t we be standing strong in it?

That last one is a difficult one to answer. How to weigh solidarity and national pride with my childrens’ psychological health? What should we do when members of my community have elected to stay and we have elected not to?

So far, we have decided to spare them as many sirens as we can and my friends and neighbors in Beer-Sheva completely understand. While they’ve had far more experience than we have, no one really gets used to an air raid siren going off, running for shelter and then waiting for a BOOM! so you can go back to what you were doing before.

And tonight, my wife and I will once again assess what we should do tomorrow.