Just got off the phone with my teacher, Rabbi Teller, in Jerusalem. He’s a frequent guest on my husband’s radio show, internationally in demand for his lectures, books and videos–and he’s the father of 18 children, (grandfather of dozens, though he’s still got young kids at home). He was telling me what it’s like to spend time in air raid shelters.
I speak to him every week when we “learn together,” the term for his teaching me the deeper meanings of Jewish texts. Right now we’re “learning” Yechezkel, which in English is called Ezekiel. We’ve been covering the section about the End of Days, eerily resonant when he describes the bomb-missiles intercepted today by the Israeli defense system called Iron Dome.
Rabbi Teller said that yesterday, Iron Dome caught several missiles headed for Jerusalem; one got through but detonated outside the city. He said sirens blare one minute before expected impact; at their piercing tone, everyone scurries to the nearest bomb shelter–each apartment building has one; they’re found on every block. If there’s no explosion and shattering noise within a few minutes, people emerge and carry on as before.
Can you imagine continuing daily life aware that enemies not far away are shooting missiles at you? How long would the United States tolerate rocket attacks on us?
As part of the Medved Israel Tour last year, we visited the city of Sderot, just a few miles from Gaza. After touring a site that had hosted Iron Dome, we went into the town–where every home has a reinforced bomb shelter in–or replacing–its back yard, and bus stops and even children’s playground equipment double as metal-strengthened protection when sirens shriek.
Now Hamas rockets can reach 50 miles, and were launched at Israel’s most populated cities: Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem. Iron Dome was employed against 27. It has a 90% accuracy rate. The attacks have affected every region of the tiny country, with sirens heard from the northernmost border with Lebanon down to the nation’s southern tip, where the resort beach at Eilat was evacuated, apparently for a false alarm.
As the Sabbath approaches, Hamas missile attacks have stopped access to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and air traffic at Ben Gurion Airport; sirens have brought code red warnings in several Southern cities, and Prime Minister Netanyahu has declared that Operation Protective Edge–the name for Israel’s present effort–will expand.
We have many friends and family-members living in Israel, and we can only speculate about the stress brought by nearly constant threat. During an earlier period of conflict, I asked my brother-in-law about it, and he thought my concern was ridiculous. Living “in a bad neighborhood” comes with risks and inconveniences, but Israelis I know believe their protection comes not only from the sophisticated military technology and expertise of their defense forces, but from the Iron Dome that God provides for His people and His Land.
The strength provided by prepared defense forces is bolstered by the spiritual underpinning of their stance. Jews around the world continue to pray for The Almighty’s intervention to thwart deathly missiles, and reinforce God’s biblical promise (Genesis 12:3) that He “will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you, I will curse.”
This column appears on Diane Medved’s blog, Searching for Bright Light.