For the past 12 days, I haven't written down what happened.
What should I write?
Do my words have meaning?
For the past 12 days, I haven't really understood how the sun rises and sets as if it were a trivial matter. How is it still happening?
For the past 12 days, I've been pinching myself several times during the day and night because it's not real. It hurts, it hurts, it hurts.
For the past 12 days, I've known that we had a miracle, but it's hard for me to call it a miracle when there's such destruction. What miracle is that?
For the past 12 days, I've been reminding myself that I believe that there is a creator of this world who manages everything. I just don't talk to him right now because it hurts me so much
that this is how he led his world. But I don't think in my entire life I've ever believed in him as much as I believe in him these days; I don't understand myself.
Days, stories, videos, photos, rockets, gunshots, planes, helicopters, and tremors. Everything is mixed together for me.
So I sat down to write because maybe it will do me good during the days and nights. Maybe because when you sit for a shiva, it's important to talk, tell, and share. That's what we all do these days; we collectively sit in mourning for seven days.
Sabbath-holiday. Roi goes out to pray, and after a few steps, there’s a large barrage of rockets. He runs home to wake me up. The kids are scattered around the house; we rush to close the safe room’s window and get everyone into the safe room..
As minutes unfold, I get the feeling that this is something else.
The power of the never-ending barrage is stronger than anything we've ever known.
There was a moment when we went out with the kids to the bathroom and stocked the safe room with water and food. I took the phone and turned it on because I understood that it would not be a normal Sabbath and that we needed to be updated.
Roi tells me, "Hannah, I hear gunshots, not from the rockets, live fire from all directions." At that moment, I understood that terrorists had infiltrated.
We returned to the safe room, and Roi tells me, "Hannah, I hear gunshots, not from the rockets, live fire from all directions." At that moment, I understood that terrorists had infiltrated.
Then I realized a live war is happening a kilometer and a half from me. Red alert sirens and then more and more. Never-ending rockets.
I inform my parents that I am safe and begin to receive updates about what is happening around us. Every minute that passes, I wait to hear the sound of our fighter planes in the sky on the way to war. But there's nothing. Time passes and passes.
In Sderot, they've taken over the police station. What? It doesn't make sense! This can’t be happening! In Kibbutz Be’eri and Netivot, there are terrorist infiltrations; there are dead and kidnapped. What? It doesn't make sense! That can’t be happening!
After an hour and a half, I hear a plane make a turn and disappear. I wait to hear the IDF bombarding the enemy, but nothing. And then the gunshots get closer to us. It really sounds like it's in the yard.
Me and Yaara lie huddled together, our hands shaking, heart beating, and then an explosion. With a prayer shawl on him, Roi positions himself by the door, preparing himself.
I'm not even sure what for. We say a psalm together and then hear another barrage of close gunfire. Then everything inside me erupts. I text my dad, letting him know where the teenagers are staying for the holiday, so he can take care of them.
"Mom, how do you know we will win? Sometimes the bad guys win..."
At 10 in the morning, I sit my children down on a mattress in the safe room and tell them, “My beloved children, this morning, the hardest war in the history of the State of Israel broke out, and this is going to be a difficult war, there will be many dead and kidnapped, and rockets and a lot of chaos and it will be scary and sad and painful, and G-d has decided and chosen us to live in a generation that has such a tough war, the second war of independence, and that means he believes in us that we will be strong and heroic and also a bit tired, panicked and scared and that's how the near future is going to be and with G-d's help we will get out of this and we will win and we will be a stronger nation because we have no choice but to grow from all the pain, from all the destruction, we will rise."
- "Mom, how do you know we will win? Sometimes the bad guys win..."
- “How do I know? Because G-d loves us so much. Remember what we sang and danced yesterday at the overnight prayers? You have chosen us from all nations; you loved us and wanted us. Your love will never leave us forever."
We will win, I am sure!
Then suddenly, I remembered my uncle is in Ofakim for the holiday, and there are battles there. Great, as if I don't have enough to worry about now.
At 12:00 pm, they call the men who weren't drafted in the emergency call-up and ask them to come to the observation post and defend the neighborhood.
“I'm left alone with the kids, so we do the most sensible thing: take a meat tenderizer for security.”
Roi leaves; he has no weapon. They’ll team him up with someone who has a weapon; that makes sense, right? They asked to bring binoculars. Here is a relaxing moment: he took with him the binoculars we got the children for bird watching. Yes, that will really help him see the scoundrels on the way.
He is at the door about to leave, and in the background, there’s constant shooting, rockets from every direction; the children are panicked and don't understand where Dad is going. I hug him and feel like a woman in the War of Independence. Then Karni asks again, "Where is Dad going?"
and I answer her, "Dad is going to protect us from the bad guys." She is so perplexed. “Bad guys? Like a monster?” and I say, “Yes, like a monster.”
We all keep quiet and return to the safe room.
I'm left alone with the kids, so we do the most sensible thing: take a meat tenderizer for security. The kids laugh that if a terrorist comes, they will knock him down “like when you make a thin piece of schnitzel”, and I laugh with them on the outside. On the inside, I’m screaming and wondering if I can hold the safe room door handle by myself.
Time does not pass. The shooting does not stop. I’m trying to play with the kids. Going around in the safe room with pillows. We sing, and eat a lot of snacks, as much as they want.
My teenagers reach out to update that they are okay and mainly to hear that we are okay.
Are we okay? How do I answer? We're alive.
Karni doesn’t understand what we all understand. She keeps us sane, putting on performances and making us all laugh. She makes us dance and tells us what to do using her fingers and her eyebrows. The longest Sabbath is over, and I feel that the life we knew will never return.
The IDF arrives at 10:00 pm to take command. Roi returns, and I breathe a little bit.
We do Havdalah, and Roi says a blessing to differentiate between the holy and the profane,
and I’m tearing up; what holiness exactly? Then, we get to the verse, ‘The Jews had light, happiness, joy, and honor’. I am shaking. ‘ Behold, G-d is my savior, I will trust G-d and not be afraid, for my strong faith and song of praise for G-d will be my salvation. The King will answer us on the day we call G-d’.
G-d, why didn't you hear when we called you?
“We weren't slaughtered in our home. We weren't kidnapped to Gaza. Everything else is a bonus.”
We understand that we can't leave here now. Everything is dangerous, total chaos. Everyone, everyone is in shock. That's how it's going to be now. We are at war.
I start packing so that the moment we can, we will leave.
Then I realize my uncle took the car for the holiday to Ofakim, and Ofakim is also under lockdown and war. How will he return, and when? We have nothing to do but wait. Pack and wait. And when can we leave? And when will we return? And so we spend a whole night locked in the safe room, waiting.
In the morning, they asked me in the family group chat, how am i /how are we?
I replied, We weren't slaughtered in our home.
We weren't kidnapped to Gaza.
Everything else is a bonus.
And there was evening, and then there was morning, day one.
And G-d saw that it was good?