Why I Turned My Bomb Shelter into a Playroom

Stand for Israel  |  March 20, 2019

Three girls drawing in a white room with paint all over the walls.

It’s a fact of life in Israel that the many enemies who surround the Israeli people on all sides will violently attack. One of the ways Israelis protect themselves is by having bomb shelters ready for when terrorist rockets begin to fly. Writing at Fox News, Fellowship President Yael Eckstein, a mother of four, talks about the toll this takes on Israeli parents and children:

Last week, Iranian-supplied rockets were aimed from Gaza at beautiful, vibrant Tel Aviv. Thank God, no one was injured. But it was a reminder to all of us who live here how perilously close we live to wars we don’t start — with enemies whose baseless hatred for the Jewish people knows no bounds.

These attacks are particularly jarring for Israel’s moms.  Like so many families, my husband and I have decorated our home’s bomb shelter as a playroom. Our hope is that our kids will get used to being in there, so it won’t traumatize them too much when we have to rush them hastily inside.

My husband and I have coordinated who will grab each of our four children in the seconds we have to enter our shelter when – not if – the emergency sirens blare in the night. We go over these plans often to make sure they become our instinct.

Let’s call this part of the “on-the-job” training that every parent living in Israel has to master.

I now lead The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, an organization founded by my father thirty-six years ago. Our group has provided over 5,500 of these bomb shelters to families in Israel thanks to the love and generosity of Christian friends. Each year, hundreds of thousands of Christian friends of Israel send into our ministry over $100 million dollars to help poor and persecuted Jewish people with basic needs, security projects, and aliyah (immigration to Israel). Our average donor gift is $74 a month.

It’s an unacceptable reality when our priority needs to be providing bomb shelters to Jews whose families were killed in the Holocaust. Often I find myself asking, “Are we going to let the darkest time in history repeat itself on our watch?”