Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Living in the South of Israel Today

On my way to work this morning, I listened to a reporter in Be’er Sheva as the warning sirens wailed, and hear a rocket explode close enough to him to clearly recognize the fall of the Grad rocket. Mind you, I was driving the other way. But it does bring things home.

Yesterday, the school system conducted a series of assemblies to explain what would happen in case of a rocket attack that threatened Yad Binyamin. With Be’er Sheva in range and a rocket falling yesterday on Kiryat Malachi (where we do most of our grocery shopping), the kids needed to be made aware. I hadn’t really thought about it. We hadn’t sat the kids down and told them what was going on. But the school was absolutely correct; they have a responsibility to our children, and in case of emergency, they need to be prepared.

Leah was understandably traumatized at school – but a nice treat successfully calmed her nerves. We explained to her that while we needed to take precautions, we didn’t think that there was very much to worry about. And I still don’t. Gaza is pretty far away and life proceeds as normal. I haven’t lost sleep over this, which is the first thing that would happen if I was really, truly worried.

How does the situation make me feel? Have I wondered about the wisdom of moving my family and children to where we now live? Not for a moment.

First and foremost, this is our land – and I understand that it doesn’t come free. We must be willing to defend and protect the land – and that doesn’t just mean soldiers. It means me and my family, willing to live our normal lives even when there’s something to worry about. But I strongly believe that when we sacrifice for something, we grow closer to it. When we stay – despite the worries – we grow stronger in our connection to the Land. It’s not just a place to live; it’s a place that I’m willing to sacrifice something for – be it a job, financial security, or even a sense of physical security (as elusive as that may be anywhere). Every Oleh knows this feeling of sacrifice, and appreciates how it brings him not to resent the Land – but that much closer to it.