Friday, July 11, 2014

Helping Kids to be Kids..Even During War

As I wrote in my last post, we are celebrating our 10 year Aliyaversary at the moment. We have talked for a while now about how we would make the anniversary special for the boys and we have had many ideas- some grand and some modest.

But we didn’t expect to be at war when the anniversary arrived.

So, we’ve done the best we could this week under the circumstances, while trying to balance the kids’ need to be kids with the need to stay safe.

Tuesday we were honored to celebrate at the Knesset with MK Dov Lipman and President Elect Ruby Rivlin.


Wednesday evening we took five of the boys to dinner in Jerusalem. I was nervous on the drive, because I definitely don’t want to have to stop the car and duck on the side of the road if a siren goes off. We were instructed to leave the window cracked in the car so that we would hear the siren should it sound. My heart pounded as we drove there and back, but I know this is nothing – nothing – compared to what is happening in the South. I don’t know how they function or how they head out on the street.

We sat down to dinner and the first thing that I did was ask the waiter where the safe room is. I was surprised by his answer, “I don’t know.” Hmmmm…..so I asked him to go check, and he returned to tell me where it was. Really? Was I the first person to ask?

Anyway, we had a lovely dinner and arrived home safely, only to be met by a siren and bombs later in the evening. To the safe room for everyone…etc. etc.

Then, yesterday, we were hoping to go to the beach. But there literally isn’t a beach anywhere along the coast that hasn’t been under fire. So we altered our plans and took the kids to the new cinema complex in Jerusalem, Cinema City. This new facility has excited my kids (neighbors and everyone else!) since it opened. It has a huge range of movie options, restaurants, fountains and more and it’s very exciting for Jerusalem, which hasn’t had such a facility in years (ever?).

The kids have been asking to go for a while now and swear that they are the last of their friends who haven’t yet been. My kids were reminiscing yesterday about how they would go to $1 matinees with their grandparents when they were in the States two summers ago. It was almost $100 to go to the movies, but we wanted to do something special for our kids. So, we drove to Jerusalem in the afternoon and enjoyed everything about the movie complex.

This time, I didn’t have to ask anyone where the bomb shelter was. There were signs everywhere – literally everywhere – indicating where we should go should there be a siren. 
Yes, that's the kids pointing to the sign for the bomb shelter

As one of my friends commented on Facebook, “ Seeing "movie" and "safe room" in the same sentence is beyond surreal...” Indeed.

But that’s life here.

We were able to ignore the war raging around us for a few hours and to simply relax and enjoy, always conscious of the fact that our fellow Israelis in the South do not have that luxury.




During the movie, Yakir ended up getting bored and Josh took him out. At some point towards the end of the movie I noticed some activity and that some people seemed to be getting up, moving around, etc. but I put it out of my mind.

As we exited the theater, I saw a message from one of my Neve Daniel friends, “Are you guys ok?”

And I realized that something had happened.

While we were far underground, enjoying the dark theater and the movie, a series of bombs had flown toward Jerusalem and were knocked out of the sky by our blessed Iron Dome! Josh and Yakir, along with a hundred of their closest friends, had gone to the bomb shelter. Josh said that everyone was calm when the siren sounded and that they were shown where to go by the cinema staff. They sat in the shelter and waited for the ten minutes that are required, and then came back to the mall as if everything were normal.

We, on the other hand, were underground and they didn’t stop the movie. Makes sense since it would have been mayhem to get everyone out of the theater and into the shelter; and we were already safe where we were.

The movie ended. We milled around the mall with hundreds of other people, all going about their lives and trying to enjoy themselves despite the current reality. I noticed that the salespeople in the stores seemed friendlier than usual. With any purchase that we made, they looked up, wished us well and said something like "Have a safe and peaceful day." We are all in this together.


And then we drove home, praying that no sirens would sound as we were on the road.

Just another day at the movies. 

Here in Israel.

Finally, today, we rented a neighbor's pool. Rather than leaving the area, we thought that it would be a great treat to enjoy a pool..and to do so within our own community. Friends recently finished their absolutely incredible backyard pool (this is very unusual in our neighborhoods - most people don't have private pools) and they are renting it out by the hour.

As we arrived, we discussed the customary question, "Ok - where is the bomb shelter? What do we do if we are in the pool...." and then jumped in. We had a glorious time - absolutely amazing - and the smiles speak for themselves.






We are at war. We fully recognize the need for safety and we are constantly on our computers checking the news, looking at Facebook and knowing what's going on. But we are also living our lives here in Eretz Yisrael and reminding our children that they are allowed to live life fully, in their Land, without paralyzing fear. And that they have a right to celebrate our 10 year anniversary of Aliyah with smiles, movies, pools and fun even in very troubled times.

When I look at these pictures, I am reminded of Golda Meir's famous words that peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate ours.

If only that could be true.
 
Romi Sussman
Neve Daniel, Israel

1 comment:

  1. I am not sure if you remember me, but I met you (and tiny baby Matan!) when I was a Joseph Lieberman Scholar during the first year of the program when Josh was heading it up in DC. I am Facebook friends with Josh and have been reading your blog for awhile now. I just wanted to leave a word to tell you that I am just blown away by your incredible commitment to living in Eretz Yisrael with your family and celebrating the land that is ours. Stay safe and know that scores of Jewish people the world over, myself included, are standing alongside you.

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