What it's like to live with rockets
Although I've never met her, I'd like to introduce you to Liz Sinnreich Panitch. Liz is 26-years old (which would put her between children # 2 and # 3 in this house, a graduate of Barnard (where Mrs. Carl did her undergraduate degree), and a new resident of Beersheva, in southern Israel. This is part of a description that she posted on Facebook of going out to buy confectioner's sugar (!) for Thanksgiving cookies between the rockets (Hat Tip: Mrs. Carl).
Going outside is a huge ordeal. It scares me to death. Being inside the comfort of our apartment with close proximity to a bomb shelter is one thing – at least then all I have to do is run into the room – shut the iron gates around the window, slam the steel door shut and we are good to go. Being outside is a completely different story.
Where does one run to? What if there is no shelter nearby? What if you are in a car? These are not simple things.
I decided I was going to go get the sugar anyway. First, a call to Jono to inform him I was leaving the house and I would let him know as soon as I got back. Whenever one of us leaves the house, we always check in. Just in case.
Where was I going to get sugar? Well, my normal supermarket was a 10 minute walk away – too far. Plus, I have to walk through an open area to get there – not gonna happen. I decided to chance my luck and go to a smaller little makolet (mini-convenience store) as it’s a shorter walk and at least I would be near residential buildings.
What’s it like to walk in Beer Sheva now? Well, forget listening to music. No ipod. You have to be alert at all times and listen for a siren. Walk close to buildings. With every step you take, your eyes dash from side to side and you think – ok, if a siren went off right now – where would I run? This building? No, too far. That one might not have a safe room. If a rocket hits the building straight on, I’m screwed. When you walk down the street in your neighborhood I’m sure you are checking out what other people are wearing, the sales going on in the store windows, and where the nearest Starbucks is. When I walk down the street, l have to look for shelter.
Then come the phantom siren sounds. Everything sounds like it. A car starting, a motorcycle accelerating, a door being slammed shut. It creeps you out – because your heart jumps when you hear any little sound. You can never be too sure.
That’s what life is like here nowadays. It’s just reality.
Well…luckily, they had sugar. And I made it home just fine. But that’s not the whole point of this story.
I’m not writing this to get sympathy. Trust me – I don’t want it. Nor am I writing this to get invitations to come up North to stay in places like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem etc. Although, I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has reached out to me in the past week – friends from Ramaz, HASC, Midreshet, Yad Vashem, the Heights, Barnard etc. Really amazing people that have legitimately opened up their homes to us – even if we haven’t spoken in years. Thank you for being so warm, and checking up – it means a lot.
[Side-note: Did I mention I’m writing this to you from a bomb shelter? I’ve been writing for 10 minutes tops and already there have been 2 sirens. I don’t know how many rockets – you can usually count the booms. It’s a least 10 – one fell in the city – directly on a house. Don’t know more yet – we wait to hear reports – or we look outside and see if we can see smoke.]
I don’t think I really understood what it was like to live in the South until I lived here myself. I don’t blame myself – you can’t really wrap your head around it until you experience it first-hand. But this is reality – and this is what everyone feels, all the time, every day.
As I walked back to my apartment I saw a blind man across the street. Ok, that changed everything.
I’m a 26 year old, able-bodied woman. Sure, I don’t exercise and I’m lazy but if I have to run – I can run. Sadly, I’ve done it many times already. But what about this blind man? How would he know where to go in the case of a siren? Can you imagine how terrifying that would be? What about the elderly? Children? Woman with babies? People with disabilities? The deaf? It’s one thing for me to be scared and run for my life – it’s a completely different thing for others. And furthermore, I’ve only had to experience this for a month or so. Yes, its been constant since I got here – but I’m tough and can take it. What about the residents of the South who have been dealing with this for years and years? Day in and day out? I can’t even imagine.
I hope this helps us all gain some perspective. It’s not easy to sympathize sometimes when we can’t understand the situation. But this is a reality of what its like to live here. Forget about me – its about the 1 million Israelis that live in the South and live under this fear on a constant basis. We must fight to keep their voices heard – and demand their safety.
Read the whole thing.