After a long week of work and the hustle and bustle of running a home with four busy kids, I was really looking forward to sleeping in a little on Saturday, Shabbat (the Sabbath). In Israel, we are off on Friday, which is generally a day to prepare for Shabbat (which goes from Friday night to Saturday night), and take care of other errands. We’re back to work on Sundays, so Shabbat is truly our day of rest. During the week I adhere to a ritual of getting up at 5:15 am; this allows me time to drink my coffee and do the things I need to do before waking the kids at 6:30. So I really cherish the one day a week I can sleep in until at least 8:00.
This past Shabbat, however, I was rudely awakened at 5:45 in the morning due to the shrill siren booming from my cell phone. It was my “Red Alert” app letting me know that there was a Code Red Alert somewhere in Israel – this time it was in communities near the border with Gaza. I installed the app on my phone during the summer of 2014, when Hamas was sending multiple rockets into Israel daily. I decided that apart from knowing if a rocket was headed my way, I wanted to feel solidarity with my fellow countrymen when a rocket was aimed at them. I would pause and say a psalm for those in danger.
Apparently Hamas felt 5:45 a.m. this past Shabbat was a great time to launch a rocket into Israel. As I looked at my phone’s screen, I saw that the rocket was headed for the southern area, not mine. We don’t use electronics on Shabbat, so I could not turn off the siren until it eventually went off on its own. By that time, I couldn’t fall back to sleep. That good night’s rest I was hoping for was no longer an option, and I was annoyed.
As I trudged down the stairs feeling sorry for myself after several unsuccessful hours of trying to will myself to sleep, I woke up enough to realize that I was lucky. I don’t live in the town whose air raid siren blared from multiple speakers, jarring hardworking people just like me out of warm beds and into a cold rush of panic. My children didn’t have to endure the trauma of being woken from their dreams by that awful sound letting them know that their very lives were in danger. Those citizens of Israel lost more than just sleep this past Shabbat. They lost the feeling of security, of stability, of peace.
We (and I include myself here) have gotten far too accustomed to rockets in Israel. It happens too often to cause an uproar anymore. This incident was barely a blip on the international radar. The reaction from most of the world – if they even knew about this particular incident – was silence. Just imagine if even one rocket fell on Chicago, or Los Angeles, or New York, or any place in the United States! There would be worldwide condemnation. There would be outrage. The situation wouldn’t be tolerated, because the truth is that one rocket is one rocket too many … at least outside of Israel.
Some people think, “Well, the Jews chose to live Israel. This comes with that decision.” But I keep hearing the voice of my Israeli friend when I asked if her great-grandparents knew what they were getting into when they came to Israel. She said, “They had no idea there would be violence. In their mind, they were simply coming home.”
I believe that every Jew has the right to live at home in peace, quiet, and security. We must never become numb to the violence that plagues our land. We must never become complacent. Perhaps that siren that broke the sweet silence this past Shabbat morning was a wake-up call I needed after all – a reminder that we must never fall asleep, never forget those in danger, never forget that we have dangerous enemies on our doorstep. We must never forget that without God, we don’t stand a chance. We cannot rest until our people need not live in fear of rockets - not even one.