I knew that when I finally sat down before the computer, my mind would be blank. So many thoughts I wanted to share, so many things that were said and done in the last 25 hours. I’ll try, in the next few posts, to remember them all, to write them down.
The first, and perhaps hardest of all, is the one I’ll start with. Elie’s wife Lauren has a family in the center of the country. The wife was friend’s with Lauren’s mother; Lauren’s mother married and has raised three wonderful daughters in America while her friend married and settled in Israel to raise her children here. In effect, what it means is that whenever Lauren or her siblings or cousins come to Israel, they have a home here and whenever Rita’s children go to America, they have a home there.
Several times over the last few months, Elie and Lauren have gone there to visit. That was their plan this past weekend. They borrowed my car and drove there on Friday while we finished our plans for Shabbat.
A little while before Shabbat – not very long at all, Lauren called to tell me that Elie had been mobilized. He had to report as soon as possible. They were on their way back to Maale Adumim for Elie to get his army stuff. They expected to be back before Shabbat came in. She said other things; I heard very little.
I closed the phone and started to cry. What else could I do? I’ve done this before, you see. It wasn’t easy the first time. So many others in the neighborhood have been called – this one has two sons in; this one has a son and daughter; this one has two sons-in-laws.
Elie came home and started grabbing army equipment. I packed a bit of food for him. Lauren was at their apartment gathering some things there – they had made a list on the way home. Lauren is the most organized person I have ever met (except her mother!). Elie was here in our house. We had already lit the Shabbat candles and Aliza had gone to meet her friend and go the synagogue together…
and then what I would have told you was unthinkable just two days ago, actually happened. An air raid siren sounded. Loud, wailing, going up and down. Incoming missile suspected. Here, near Jerusalem…
I have, for many months now, imagined this moment – if it was to happen, I wanted it to happen on Shabbat – which it did. But other than that, it was all terrifying and unpredictable. The pieces of my family kept going through my mind – where is Aliza – she’s outside somewhere, has she found shelter? Amira wasn’t supposed to be with me. She’d come down on Friday afternoon and her husband was going to come down later with the baby.
She was with us; her baby and husband were not. She began to cry – sheer terror for a mother not to be with her baby, not to know. My baby was 12 years old; her’s is 18 months old. The siren stopped after what seemed like a minute or two.
I sent Davidi to get Aliza; Amira went to be with Lauren. We had no radio to know what had happened, if anyone was hurt, if it was even real. What was terribly real and has become more real, is that Elie had to leave.
He’s 25 years old and this is his second war. The first time, he went with a clear head. He moved from one army base to another. This time, he left his wife behind and more, he left with the knowledge that it was very much his home under fire.