While on my Masa Israel Journey program, I decided to make Aliyah. I landed a great full-time job, registered for Ulpan, and found an apartment in the trendy, and heavily American, German Colony in Jerusalem. Last week, my first week post-program, was amazing and that dreaded “transition to being on your own” was a piece of cake, chocolate Marzipan cake of course. Week two came, and it came with my first Code Red siren; a new disturbance to my new confident On-My-Own mentality. It seemed like with the end to my program and the disappearance of a pre-planned daily schedule and the transparent care of my directors, my safety ended as well. All I wanted was to call my Director at Yahel – Israel Service Learning and ask her to make the missiles stop!
I was at a concert outside of the Old City with some friends last week during the first siren. Everyone knew that the country was facing activity that day and while we were all constantly checking the latest updates on our I-phones, we weren’t going to abandon the concert tickets we purchased out of fear of something that might not even disturb the night’s events. Trying to provide constant comfort to my parents back in the states, I sent this picture with the caption “Safe in Jerusalem – at a concert!”
3 minutes later, sirens went off. The concert was shut down and everyone raced home. The rest of the night was quiet although if a siren went off, I’m not sure I would have heard it over the volume of that heart was beating.
My anxiety about Operation Protective Edge pretty much ended that night. Reading articles and engaging in conversations with Israelis gives me comfort and enables me to be more informed. Restaurants, stores, and public transportation all operate normally, and continue to do so 5 minutes after a siren stops. My Israeli friends are calm and go about their daily lives without fear or worry. No meetings or classes are canceled. I worried before thinking about the situation, because I felt like I should; because that was what I did when I was back in the states and when I didn’t hear about people grocery shopping, laying out in parks, and going to school on the news. Needless to say, I’ve started reading more Israeli news articles than American ones.
Other sirens have gone off since this first one and luckily I haven’t been by myself during them. The composure of the people around me, the amount of shelter-selfies taken, and the sense of community prominent during these times, all allow me to take these sirens as a 5-minute disturbances to my day.
So, what’s my reality during Operation Protective Edge? My ears and eyes are alert, my phone provides me with updated notifications, I regularly call family members and I give an extra big smile of appreciation to the guard on the train. I grab coffee at Aroma on my way to my office in Musrara, Jerusalem and I meet a client or two throughout the day. Ironically, I work at an Israeli start-up that specializes in social media and much of our energy goes towards explaining our Israel experiences. In the evenings, I have been going to Ulpan and meeting up with friends.
I am well aware that unlike many other areas in Israel, Jerusalem to this point in the operation has seen very few missiles. I also know that these sirens are not simply disturbances and that they are serious threats. However, my “keep on trucking” mentality is the result of a trust, I’ve never before had to realize. I trust my Israeli friends around me, the individuals patrolling the streets, and the IDF, specifically the technology of the Iron Domes. Forgetting Hamas for just a minute, I think about that trust and how THAT, not necessarily experiencing the sirens, has made me just a little bit more Israeli.