Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Missiles Raining Down

We knew that something was up.

Our small yishuv (settlement – but it’s the kosher kind, well inside the Green Line) sits about a mile away from the Tel Nof Air Force base – a major hub of IAF activity. You kind of get used to the jets streaking overhead all the time, and tune out the noise.

Except on Shabbat. On Shabbat there are never jets. You cherish the quiet. After all, why disturb the Jewish day of rest unless there’s an emergency. And that’s how we knew something was up – when we heard the jets on Shabbat afternoon.

For some weeks now we’ve been hearing about the bombs and missiles and rockets landing throughout the south of Israel. And I’ve been listening to the news along with all Israelis with a growing sense of frustration. While it has been a relief to hear (most of the time) that there were “no injuries,” how long could that really last? (Not long enough.) When would we do something to stop the shooting? What would we do? What could we do?

I learned today that my house sits in harm’s way. Yad Binyamin lies smack between Kiryat Malachi and Gadera, about forty kilometers from Gaza, at the outer range of Hamas rocket capabilities. (it's right on the red line between the purple and green zones. Not close - but on the map. And it's not a great map to be on.) Unlike the residents of Sederot, who get only fifteen seconds warning, we’ll have forty-five. Not that I’m that worried. But it does give me an eerie sense to know that for better or worse, I'm “within range” of a terrorist. It also didn't help that we all got "preparedness" memos in our mailboxes yesterday. (As if the bombings in Mumbai didn’t remind us that all of us are – inside Israel and out.)

I view the army fighter jets differently than I used to. In the United States, jets were a nuisance; a source of noise that disturbed our otherwise quiet lifestyles. They were part of the background, to be taken for granted and ignored. In fact, the only day I can remember not hearing the roar of the jets was September 11th, 2001, when I yearned to hear a jet in the sky.

Now though, when I hear a jet roar overhead, or especially when I see a helicopter flying south (they often fly in formations of two or three), I think about the men inside. Actually, it’s probably boys. And they’re our boys, who we’re sending to do some very adult-like behavior to protect our country, our families, and our people. Lately, whenever I spot an aircraft overhead I think a small prayer in my head. I pray for the well-being of the pilot. For the safety of the crew. For the peace of mind of their parents. And for the safety of our country.

Because a jet or a helicopter is no longer just a noise to me. It’s our children. And this week especially, they need all of our prayers.