|The puff of smoke from an Iron Dome above YB|
I live in Yad Binyamin, 37km from Gaza, which used to be considered within range of the rockets. That's now less relevant, as Hamas has begun shooting longer-range rockets. When I got to work today in Elkana (another 50km from Gaza), they had put up signs directing people to shelters, should they need it. I highly doubt that rockets will reach Elkana, but you never know. Interestingly, the original residents of Elkana are more nervous than the newer ones. Any new house in Israel is built with a mamad - a protected room. The older houses were built before rocket attacks, when residents were instructed to use communal shelters. Unfortunately, the minute and a half it would take for a rocket to get to Elkana is less time that it would take for the locals to get to a communal shelter.
Interestingly, for the time being, I'm quite calm about things this time around. We've been sleeping in our beds, and not in the protected room, and fortunately, Hamas has been nice enough to shoot in our direction during waking hours (at least for the adults). When the siren blares, you just drop everything and make your way to the safe room. We're working on making our way to the Mamad swiftly, but also calmly, so as not to overly upset the kids.
The first time we heard a siren this time around, I was on my way home from shul, and a relatively large group of Chassidishe teens were hanging out in the park. They began running in our direction, and a number of them joined us in our mamad. It was a klal yisrael moment - kol dichfin yeisei v'...yeishev b'mamad. After a few moments we heard the boom, and the kids were on their way.
While I'm personally doing OK, one of my children is having a much harder time. He can't really sleep well, and could only fall asleep on the floor of his (much bigger) brother's room. That reality - that the rockets are endangering and frightening our children - is the aspect most infuriating to me. I explained to him the fact that we can't allow our enemies to frighten us, and that our strength is important - and he tries to understand. But he's just a child, and it's normal to be scared.
Yad Binyamin is situated right next to Tel Nof - a large air force base - and you can hear the planes and helicopters flying over at all times. As we heard the planes flying over late last night while I tried to calm him down, I told him that the noise from the planes don't scare me. Rather, it comforts me, and I always say a silent tefillah that they should go and come safely, and successfully squash our enemies.
This morning, as he came downstairs, he told me that he started to think the same way, and the noise above will hopefully give him comfort that we are indeed strong, and will emerge from this episode even stronger.
Two final comments: People in the USA naturally want to express their solidarity with Israel, which is good and proper. We of course need your tefillot, and I saw that one shul already organized an erev Tefillah. Some people immediately think of sending funds.
Yet, I'm not sure that sending money is the best idea - unless its to support shelters for people who don't have them yet (and there are many), or activities for kids looking to get out of the house if this thing drags on. (today, the kids were sent back to camp, so things are OK for the moment). The IDF feeds the soldiers, and they don't really need equipment, to the best of my knowledge.
But Israel will need political cover from the United States, and the expressions of support from members of Congress to prosecute this action despite the "tragic" pictures emerging from Gaza (or Syria, or Iraq circa 2009). That support must come from Americans, and rabannim and shuls can be very effective in this area.