Thursday, April 10, 2008

Reality Check

This week we had an emergency practice throughout Israel. They sounded the sirens, the kids had to go to their safe rooms in schools and the emergency services got themselves organised for different scenarios. For us lucky enough to have arrived in Israel during relatively peaceful times, the sound of the sirens is a little unnerving. We are not used to it and are unsure how we will feel and how we will cope when, inevitably the sirens sound for real.

I think most Israelis feel that we are ‘between wars’, certainly we are not at peace. With our civilians in Sderot continuing to have missiles fired upon them, our soldiers still missing and terrorism still very clearly on the agenda of our neighbours; the emergency practice seems to represent a caution, a reminder for us to be prepared for the worst.

The kids took it all in their stride. The regular school practices are treated by kids like fire drills are in the UK; they see it as a welcome distraction from their lessons.

On the day of the practice the sirens did not really affect me. The following evening my kids went out to help clean out the shul for pasech. I had given them some money to buy pizza afterwards as a reward. They walked up to the shul together, did all their jobs and then enjoyed some nice, hot pizza and a cool drink. Afterwards they took a slow stroll back home, which is about a twenty minute walk. The whole episode took longer than I imagined. They were not particularly late but as I gathered in the washing from the garden I heard the call to prayer from the neighbouring Arab village. Also audible was the sound of either fireworks or gun fire. I couldn’t make out which. Perhaps it was the siren from the day before; perhaps it was the chilling call to prayer with a ‘gun fire’ backtrack; but I felt really unnerved. With the baby asleep upstairs I couldn’t wander out to meet them, so I loitered outside the house waiting, waiting, waiting. Eventually, two tired figures emerged from the distance and then ran towards me when they spotted me outside. I sat down and praised them for being so helpful and gave them both an extra hug and a kiss.

On a lighter note, I have discovered the magical powers of baby wipes! I am in the middle of Passover cleaning up and clearing out. So far the baby wipes have proved excellent at many jobs – the leather sofa in particular came up a treat! Who needs expensive leather cleaner when my daughter’s wipes do the trick?

Sharona B